I’d like to improve my dinner party repertoire. Are dinner parties still a thing? I met an older woman when I was in college who mentioned that she had several meals memorized in case she needed to host an impromptu dinner party. Magician.
Years later, I read a piece in Vogue (I think) about a woman who was known as one of the best hostesses on the New York social scene. She would make a giant pot of stew, pick up some crusty bread, and overfill wine glasses while people ate cross-legged on the living room floor.
One of the best dinner parties I ever attended was hosted by my friend Pableaux, who put everyone into service chopping, grating, running for ice cream, and then shooed everyone toward a giant table in the kitchen. He kept the conversation running late into the night, and I’ve rarely felt more welcome.
I’m working on building out my recipe tin, and I added a section for dinner parties. So far I have one go-to: Homemade Guacamole and chips, Fish Burritos, Cucumber Salad, Strawberry Shortcake, Sparkling Wine.
So I want nine more solid meals. What do you serve when you’re having people over, either casually or for a more formal dinner?
I’m looking for ten solid recipes to go in each section of my recipe tin. I’m particularly light on veggies (because I tend to just steam and serve), pork, beef, and appetizers.
Some simple, fun things I’ve was doing on Go Mighty when I wasn’t here:
My little fire escape garden is so life affirming.
I’ve added five bathtubs to my 100 bathtubs goal.
Mulberries, I have decided, are not very delicious. I’ve tasted around 110 of my 1,000 fruits, but have yet to move them all over to Go Mighty. Trust.
Peppers are pretty in a bouquet, and they sort of look like fingers. That makes 16 out of 100 bouquets.
I’ve made 19 of my 100 cocktails. So I’m probably drunk right now.
(This post is sponsored by Target.)
For decades humans have feared that when robots unite, they’ll do so to subsume humanity. But, come on. Robots just wanna dance!
Since we started building his box robot, Hank and I have been talking about a robot party. I like using toys to decorate, and now that Hank’s Transformer collection has achieved critical mass, these robot tableaus are really coming together.
Details if you’d like to host your own Robot Dance Party or Transformer Party:
The table centerpiece features several of Optimus Prime’s alter egos — the 16-inch tall Optimus Prime, Silver Optimus Prime, James Brown Optimus Prime — and Grimlock, who is temporarily suspending his desire to supplant Optimus as leader of the Autobots… in the interest of getting down. (And because, from a franchise standpoint, he is way outnumbered.)
These are my startled robot cupcakes. I made the marshmallow heads first. A toothpick secures the Dots gumdrops on either side of the head, and little dots of icing are holding the candy eyes in place. Then I trimmed down some Sour Punch Bites to be mouth size, and attached that with icing too.
You can make the heads while the cupcakes bake, and once they’re done, add a little dollop of extra icing in the top center to hold the marshmallows in place. I like this guy because his head is tilted in question of our inferior logic.
I used the Grimlock vs Optimus battle set to guard the snacks. They’re like a Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Robot update with flat bottoms, so they stand on their own in the bowl even when they aren’t propped up by chips.
These tall, slim bottles come in lots of flavors/colors, and the labels peel off easily. (These are Market Pantry Blue Raspberry Lemonade.)
Trying to line up labels on a printer makes me want to knock my head against the desk, so I just photocopied Transformer logos off some packaging onto glossy paper, then taped them to the bottles with thin double-sided tape.
We requested that guests arrive as their favorite robot alter egos. We made this for the top of our Facebook invite, but we don’t mind if you use it too:
Everyone loves good robot gif.
Image by Nataniel Russell. You can buy his prints here.
Do you have summer resolutions? My list for this year:
Leave the country.
A couple weeks ago, Brad and I used airline miles to fly to Mexico. It was the most nothing I’ve ever done.
Go on a road trip with Hank.
We’re driving home from a wedding in Seattle right now, where the bride and groom played live Chilean Cumbia, and half the wedding toasts were in Spanish. I’m typing this from a hotel room at dawn, with the boys sleep-breathing on either side of me.
Eat a popsicle outside.
Pop Nation makes flavors like Sea Salted Dark Chocolate, Bourbon Peach, and Mango Chili Lime. I always have one at the Alameda Flea Market, and this month I had two.
We have another wedding here. It’s one of my favorite cities.
• Robot Dance Party
Robot Dance Party! I’ve been cocooning lately, and there are too many faces I haven’t kissed. Cool, metallic robot faces.
• Street fireworks on Independence Day.
Sparklers, and Piccolo Petes, and ground flowers, and cone fountains, and watermelon.
• Feet in the river.
Sandwich in my hands.
A small paint brush
A bowl in which you are willing to mix glitter and glue
Glitter in whatever color you want
Modge Podge glue, glossy
Masking tape or painter’s tape (I used washi, because I had it)
Some newspaper to protect your work area
Tape off the sections you want to glitter. I found that dramatic triangles that reached near the top of the pot looked the coolest, but you do you.
Mix about half a cup of Modge Podge with a liberal amount of glitter (amounts will vary depending on the size of your glitter flakes. Dump in enough glitter that there are no glitter-free sections when you apply the glue to your pot.
Paint away. Wait a few hours for it to dry, and then peel the tape off.
Wasn’t that so easy? I know! Good work.
(This post is sponsored by Target.)
This is my 7-year-old child craning his neck to see what’s on the television screen I’m watching, while he plays on my laptop.
It’s his preferred state of being, and I take full responsibility. I’m not sure what was in the bowl in front of him, but probably extra-dye M&Ms coated in high fructose corn syrup and then rolled in crunchy sugar crystals. He’s a growing boy.
I kid, but there are some screen-related things I don’t obsess about. I don’t worry that he’s becoming stupider, and I don’t mind that his heroes include robot trucks. I do care about spending enough time together engaged in non-watching activities, and making sure he’s hitting all the developmental marks along the way. We’re great on the reading front (relief), but he’s never been very interested in making things.
I grew up covered in glitter and Elmer’s Glue, but Hank can’t be tempted. We once gave him a giant activity book, which he read cover to cover, and then wandered away from it. He won’t even use safety scissors to sneak away and cut his own hair. This didn’t worry me much, kids have different interests, until he came home from school one day and said that he’s not good at art as the other kids. Aw man.
Time to get more serious about glue stick practice and Scissor Holding-101. I thought for a while about how to get him engaged for more than a few minutes in a way that wouldn’t leave him disliking art more than ever.
Hank has always been into science and robots, but lately he’s been interested in a very specific type of robot. So when the Tooth Fairy brought us this killer book called Welcome to Your Awesome Robot, I suggested maybe, we could, you know, make a Transformer.
If he wanted.
Optimus Prime is listening. Proceed.
You have no idea how hesitantly he engaged with this tape, my friends.
But he got into it! We built for a couple of days, and I encouraged him to come up with his own ideas and build things himself.
Innovations include, this sign that warns you not to stick your face too close to the input flap, lest it be chomped off.
Here is our threat monitor, which indicates when it’s time for the Autobots to roll out.
In the middle of drawing an arm hole, Hank said, “Mom. Building robots is SO. MUCH. FUN.”
Truth. And then we jumped around for a few minutes, because I’d been waiting seven years to hear something positive about cardboard and pipe cleaners.
We added party hat receptors, and a view slot, and an Optimus Prime sword, which makes very convincing robot sounds and doubles as an interior light source.
This photo is exactly what I thought it would be like to be a mom.
But what does it transform into?
“A fort! … can I play iPad inside?”
Sure, little guy.
I bought a used juicer and started doing the green juice/smoothie thing this week by trying random recipes on the Internet. You will be shocked to hear that many of them are blech. But! The other morning I made a good one. And then I picked out a pretty glass and straw and took photos of it next to an air plant in my bathroom, like so:
It had mango, spinach, pineapple, and bananas, and even Hank was into it. It’s called the Beginner’s Luck Green Smoothie if you’re game to try.
KALE CAN EFF UP YOUR THYROID? YES.
Also, my friend Molly warned me that she knocked out her thyroid by drinking juiced kale too regularly. Has this happened to any of you? I looked it up and found out that all cruciferous vegetables (kale, spinach, broccoli, and so on) can tax your thyroid. Here are some links to info, which can be summed up as “Moderation. Etcetera.”
JUICING IS NOT THAT HARD TO CLEAN UP
Also, I was afraid of juicing because of the general complaint about how hard it is to clean up afterward. It turns out that’s not a thing. My juicer is a Breville Juice Fountain, and it’s a little easier to clean than a food processor. I also have an old Vitamix blender that I was paranoid about purchasing because it’s ludicrously expensive, but I use it every day and it’s incredible. It’s a beast when it comes to blending vegetables, and it’s even easier to clean.