For instance, inside these pages you will learn how to weather a mortar attack in good spirits; how to avoid booking yourself on the Internet into a bed and breakfast full of twee quilts and dusty tchotkes; and how to plan a dinner party that will stun your guests with deliciousness and style and not destroy your will to live with the amount of work you have to do to pull it off.
These are things I know firsthand, and things people who know me often ask me about (though I usually just book them into bed and breakfasts myself -- identifying ruffled death traps is an acquired skill). I am almost always right about everything (food, style and travel-related, anyway, and often many other things) and if everyone would just do as I say, dinner would taste better, cupcakes would not be dry, your parties would be more fun (for you), and mortar attacks... well, they always suck. I can't do anything about them.
*except laundry. I can't manage my own laundry, much less yours.
Friday, May 27, 2011
Ciara and Jason's wedding: My pitch for Black and white stripe and sunflowers and black-eyed susan and then I will forever hold my peace
But let's back up. My friend Jason proposed to my friend Ciara last week in a veeery Washington (I mean this in a good way) manner: through pulling some personal strings, he arranged an exceedingly rare tour of the Capitol dome. That is, up in the dome, next to the frescoes and the windows, and on the balconies around the dome... places most people don't get to see, unless they are a senator. Gorgeous views, rarefied air, and a romantic, on the knee, will you spend the rest of my life with me thing.
Ciara, thank heaven, said yes. This came at the end of a long week of planning. First there was the tour to arrange, then the ring to procure, and then, of course, a surprise (for her) cocktail picnic in the summer house on the grounds of the Capitol for a handful of close friends. That, as you might imagine, was my department. I have long dreamed of being an elf like this -- setting up something gorgeous and wonderful and public. So public that this happened in the middle of it:
But back to the important part: the best hors d'oeuvre ever: BLT on a stick
1. Get yourself some slab bacon. This is not necessarily an easy task. Whole Foods didn't have it, but Canales Meats in Eastern Market did. I got a pound of unsliced bacon. Took it home, cubed it, then roasted it at about 350 for 30 minutes, till it was crisp.
2. I drained it on a paper bag, then speared an organic grape tomato, some lettuce leaves (baby lambs ear) and cube of bacon. Voila! I made an avocado mayo to go with (pureed ripe avocado, a little lemon and a bit of mayonnaise to smooth things out).
3. I laid it out on a bed of more lamb's ear lettuce. Super hit. Delicious. Make. You can do it while you're watching the Barefoot Contessa on your couch.
Let's see some more pictures, yes, before we get to crowd sourcing their wedding? Because they are getting married in August at her family's home in Rhode Island (yes, there's a sweeping green lawn, shingles and a water view). They figure just get er done so they can go to Sudan or wherever.
Where the deed was done. In the background! Way up!
The Summer House, a Frederick Law Olmstead folly. Lovely and cool and a little sheltered in case the threatened rain came, which it didn't.
A view of the party
There they are again. It's like it's about THEM or something, instead of my BLTs On a Stick.
So now on to the crowd sourcing.
- the wedding will be at the end of August in Rhode Island
- They love love love good food
- They (I think) want it to be more of a party than a traditional wedding, take off the garter thing (I think)
- They don't want a nautical theme
- The rehearsal dinner, however will likely be a crawfish boil/clambake in honor of both their roots.
- The expect around 120 to 180 and it will be a destination wedding for most people.
1. They need to start somewhere -- maybe with the menu they want to serve, and let that dictate style -- or with a color palette, or a flower (sunflowers?). I'm currently pulling for black and white stripes, with sunflowers and black-eyed susans. Or maybe dahlias in orange and hot pink? That would be kind of fun and mad hattery.
2. write the seating chart on a giant chalkboard (made with chalkboard paint). I love chalkboards.
12. they are not wedded (ha) to a wedding cake so maybe a dessert table of homespun pies and cakes and cookies?
Thursday, May 26, 2011
Could you DIE? I love the directness, brevity, the cocksureness. Who is going to say no to that? If I get married this kid is making the cake.
As you can imagine I have a hideous prom story to tell. My junior year prom fell the day after an enormous student council convention at which I was running for State President. This would have been an epic coup, completing the dynasty that was the How To Run Your Life family. My brother had been President of the County Association of Student Councils. My sister was President of the District Association of Student Councils (5 counties). I would be president of the state!
Denied. I lost by a single vote, some back door deal between all boys schools. Devastating.
Anyway: I came home exhausted and got ready for my prom. My dress was completely tragic: magenta, one shoulder, giant flower on said shoulder, taffeta. I was not a pretty picture.
AND! I had to go to prom dinner with my older brother -- he lording the County manele over me (not really) and my Brazilian exhcange student. My date was the twin brother of one of my best friends. Not really a love match, and if I recall correctly I totally engineered the invite through his sister. Very Machiavellian. I wanted to go to prom. How wrong I was.
My brother, then 21, my exchange student Edie, my friend and I went to the local fancy f rench restaurant and had an unremarkable meal. Edie couldnt figure out how to eat he onion soup gratinee. My brother tried to order wine and was denied because even though he was legal he was going to a prom. He ordered escargot instead. We ate, left, went to prom. I was depressed all night.
And then on Monday morning, what should pass but a GIANT HEADLINE IN OUR HOMETOWN PAPER, in the Living Section , across the top. "AWKWARD ROMANCE OF PROM NIGHT STILL LIVES" it read.
There was no awkward romance. A brother, sister, neighbor and exchange student. Lord.
A columnist happened to be sitting at the next table, eavesdroping on everything we said... and transcribing it. I was red dress. There was white dress, white tux, black tux (thank god we were all wearing different colors or this could have gotten confusing). Hideous, horrible, totally mortifying and only happens to me.
I skipped senior prom and went to the Rocky Horror Picture Show, but I missed seeing my best friend crowned prom queen :( . After party was fun though.
I've lent my boyfriend's daughter a gorgeous red silk gown, though, so it's kinda like I'll be going to a senior prom after all.
Right? Transitive property of gowns?
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
But maybe it works for middle-class white American women because check it out. Totally out of the blue, I was invited to spend the weekend at Mount Welby, a gorgeous country house in Virginia that I long ago put on my list of favorite websites. Observe to the right: ---->
Anyway, there I was last weekend, and it's more beautiful than you can imagine. Just... perfect.
Irises on the kitchen table
The view from the porch. Tell me you dont want to live here.
The upper deck
Thursday, May 12, 2011
1. Lots of water.
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
I grew up eating mangoes right off the tree in Florida (Palm Beach County, to be exact. Home of the Hanging Chad). Mango whip, mango fool, raw mango, mango fruit salad... you name it, we ate it. My grandfather had an enormous mango tree and he would pick the fruit, cut it into cubes and surrepticiously stick it in our freezer while my mother and father were at work. It was a surfeit of mangoes and one had to be furtive if one meant to get rid of it all.