April 30, 2018
There’s no secret that my life has been a little busy lately.
Five weddings in five weeks with only one in my own state.
Just a little busy.
So, while scrolling through Pinterest in a few moments of free time recently, I happened upon Megan Gilger’s The Fresh Exchange Blog and instantly fell in love with her “A Simple Evening” posts like this one:
Spending weeks on the road has meant lots of eating out. Not only eating out on the weekends, but eating out during the week due to exhaustion and lack of time on the weekends to grocery shop and prep. So the fresh meals spread across The Fresh Exchange Blog were like manna from heaven for my eyes. I sent my friend, Meg, a snapshot of some of my favorites from Megan’s blog, and the dinner party planning began.
For someone who always goes overboard, I promised I would reign myself in and create an evening just as Megan did – simple. I knew I wanted freshness- light entree, lots of greens, and lots of wine. Wine is fresh, right? (ha!)
Also, it just so happened that I had purchased this table at a MIRACLE deal from an estate sale recently. You see, that’s what I like to refer to those incredible steals that I find… “Seth, I HAVE to have it! It’s a MIRACLE that it’s so cheap! Can you believe it?!” And honestly, I’d say this table really was. Originally marked almost $800, I walked away with this beautiful, 8 foot, real pine table for a mere $100. And let me tell you, that baby is solid wood. I had to help Seth maneuver it from the garage, around the house, and into the backyard, and it was a feat! I’m pretty sure we stopped at least 5 times for me to catch a breather and rest this old lady back of mine.
So I texted a few friends for what I like to deem “an al fresco dining experience.” Sounds fancy, huh? And knowing me, I had several ask what the dress code was. Ha!
Spoiler alert: If I’m around, I’ll probably have a camera in my hand. I hope you’re ready.
Also, you might as well wear something you really love, because you’re about to get your next head shot/profile picture out of the deal!
By the time Saturday rolled around, I had planned out the entire evening – down to the table cloth, napkins, and neighborhood bushes I was going to “trim” for the centerpiece.
What came about was even better than I had dreamed.
My self-appointed “outdoor lighting specialist” did a wonderful job fixing up the lighting for the evening, and it seriously could not have been more perfect. He strung cafe lighting between two shepherd’s hooks to illuminate the table after the sun set. We also brought out some lanterns who carry their own funny tale and filled them with candles to illuminate the back porch and yard. (They were stacked when I bought them, so I UNKNOWINGLY stole the medium and small lanterns, because I didn’t realize they were inside! Oops! Sorry, TJ MAXX! I was already 3 hours away when I realized the mistake. Best $45 I ever spent for 6 lanterns!)
We visited the front of the neighborhood to gather some of the blooming stems (It could have been weeds. I don’t actually know. It was pretty, blooming white, free, and nobody had to pop a Zyrtec. All is well.) and arranged them in a large glass canister my sister had picked up at an estate sale before our wedding several years ago.
To continue on the glass trend and to promote as much open visibility as possible, most everything served was in clear glass, as well. I brought out some cheap Libbey glass water goblets, various mismatching wine glasses, and paired our white casual china with the gold flatware I picked up at an estate sale last year.
On the menu:
Lemon Pepper Salmon (I roughly follow this recipe from Pinterest)
Spring Mix Salad with Lemon Juice and Homemade Balsamic Dressing
Green Bean and Quinoa Salad (again I roughly followed this recipe and omitted the sprouts)
Savory Spring Asparagus Tart (made by my lovely friend, Meg)
Orange Creamsicle Cake (first time I’ve made a cake from scratch – found the recipe here.)
And because I can’t resist a charcuterie board, I broke out the oversized wooden board I bought at TJ Maxx (with intentions of giving as a wedding gift, but loved it too much) before Christmas and added fruit, a couple cheeses, salami, and bread to complete the centerpiece.
Per my usual, I was still cooking when everyone arrived. But you know what? That’s my favorite. I live for the day I’ll own a kitchen designed to my entertaining needs. I dream of a gigantic island made for standing around and socializing, especially as I cook. I envision interactive dinner parties that involve Make Your Own Pizza or Make Your Own Pasta. I fantasize about a future AirBnB or Bed and Breakfast where I might even teach a few things in the kitchen. Oh, how I dream.
As we finished up the meal preparations and moved outside, my soul truly came alive. As the sun fell lazily behind the trees, the reflections sprawled across the lake, the music danced over the water, and the spirits livened up the conversation, so came the laughter. And as I snuck back to the kitchen for additional wine, I paused for a moment to capture the moment on camera (and video).
Those are the moments I live for.
My people. My tribe. Enjoying themselves. Laughing aloud. Eating to their hearts content. Relaxing in my care.
Those are my moments.
I hope you enjoy the photos below, and I hope to do this again soon.
And if you fancy a trip to our house, whether near or far, I hope to treat you to this al fresco dining experience, as well.
May this inspire you to host your own “simple evening” to enjoy the presence of your people. Your tribe.