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Anatomy of a Dinner Party

July 30, 2013


Dan and I strive to be parents who incorporate our child into our life instead of it being Margaret’s world and we’re just living in it. For us that means continuing to have people over to our house. Saturday night, we hosted several friends for the first time in what felt like years. I mean, before Stacy and Sean moved we all dined at each other’s places so often it felt more like family than anything else.


From setting the table to start and a loaded dishwasher to finish, I love how it all unfolded. One thing Dan and I do well is pizza night. I think it’s because there’s a lot you can do in advance and it’s not terribly complicated. You can prep the vegetables and brown meats ahead of time so you can actually visit with guests. I made three batches of pizza dough for crusts and had a slew of toppings (roasted red peppers, sausage, zucchini, salami, mushrooms, plenty of cheese and farmers market sauce).



Our friend Barbara brought the most delicious roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon, and some amazing mushrooms. Fantastic! Augusta and Brett brought a terrific beet and arugula salad from Gwyneth Paltrow’s new cookbook. And for dessert, because I was being both slightly lazy, but very realistic about my lack of time, I just did a simple, homemade salted caramel sauce drizzled over store-bought ice cream, topped with toasted macadamia nuts.

Because our kitchen is small, and we’d have the oven cranked for a while, we decided to put our backyard table on the covered front porch. I pressed my table runner and napkins because I sort of feel like this is a dying art—preparing for a party—arranging flowers and making the night feel special. I used a marble lazy Susan my mom gifted me as a turntable for pre-meal bruschetta, and the next day, as a centerpiece for holding hydrangeas.

We had my favorite (what we call our house red) everyday wine, local beer, and after dinner we made spiked Arnold Palmer cocktails. So, that was our dinner party—simple and good.


We all need this once in a while. A lovely summer night, close friends, fits of laughter, amazing food, feeling alive in the moment and savoring each day surrounded in the things that truly matter. I was also a wonderful reminder to Dan and I that we are still the same post-Margaret, only better.