This weekend, we had our annual Spring Hootenanny (not my word, this is Rob's deal) which is also known as Rob's birthday celebration since we have it the weekend around his birthday. It is always a lot of fun for us and we love getting a bunch of friends (usually around 100 - 150 if you count the children...this year it was about 130) together, eating food, chatting, and talking until all hours of the morning. It reminds us how special our community here is and how many wonderful people we know.
This year, we were less prepared and less organized (if that is even possible since it always seems to sneak up on us) and I was sort of wishing we had decided to do a smallish dinner party with a just a few friends and family, but once the people started coming I remembered how I love to see the house, porch, and park overflowing with people from newborns to retirees. It is worth any of the stress I put on myself. I actually let go quite a bit this year...maybe too much and didn't fret about the house being perfect or even clean (sorry all, but that is life with a business, a baby, and two very active homeschooled boys), hopefully no one was offended and the lighting was such that the little dust bunnies blended into the woodwork.
We made a huge batch of hummus, some desserts (including Fudgy Wudgy Blueberry Brownies from Veganomicon which Parker decorated with powdered sugar, fresh blueberries, and fresh strawberries), Pasta E Fagioli from Veganomicon, and Tzimmes (over brown rice) from Vegan Family Favorites.
Some of the highlights of the weekend from my perspective (really Rob should be writing this post, but he is so lame he hasn't even posted one entry on his own blog so you get just my side of things):
1. Our friend Todd coming down from Chicago the night before and playing with the kids, mopping our porch, chatting with us about movies, law, relationships, and life in general (while I should have been cooking), and generally being the sweet helpful person that he is. Todd didn't lose his cool with our second born chose this weekend to do his impersonation of a four year old demon child (which is actually my fault since I didn't give him the time he needed all week...Dema not Todd...and to be honest Dema is pretty angelic today...can't wait to experience the teen years and if I'm lucky it will coincide with my going through menopause and we'll really have a grand ole time). Anyway, it was great to see Todd.
2. Our friends and ex-neighbors Mike and Alison (and their dog Percy too!) coming down from Chicago Saturday evening even though I invited them last minute (like I invited everyone last minute because...well, you all know the excuses). It was so wonderful to see them and I'm so glad they stayed the night and I am so sorry to them and Todd that I didn't even make them so much as a cup of coffee for breakfast the next morning. I suck and you all should come down for the weekend sometime and I promise to do a real breakfast and be a better hostess. Alison, you rock for helping me clean up Saturday night/Sunday morning and yes it still looks pretty much the way we left it, no more cleaning progress has been made. Oh and next time mention that there are no pillows on the bed! I thought Rob had taken care of it (I don't know what I was thinking) and we have a ton of pillows around the house so don't be shy about letting us know.
3. Getting to know our many wonderful neighbors even better and making me feel like we live in the best place on Earth. I didn't get any pictures because I was too busy talking and checking the food, etc. to mess with pictures, but I have this wonderful mental picture of the many strollers and bikes on our side lawn and it makes me smile.
4. Kris, you outdid yourself with the spectacular cake! Rob was amazed and touched by your sweetness. I asked him many times if he wanted a cake (just because I love ordering them from you), but he was like "I don't need a cake. I'm too old for a cake.", but in the end I really think he loved having a cake and that cake really took the cake. I can not believe how amazing it was. It makes me want to get married again just to have a wedding cake like this. The picture does not do it justice. We are talking chocolate orange cake with chocolate orange filling on the top tier, lemon cake with vanilla filling on the middle, and vanilla cake with strawberry filling on the bottom...all vegan and avoiding the top 8 allergens for our guests. Really there are no words to describe how wonderful, thoughtful, and generous this was.5. Jenny, your Southern Comfort Slush was a super duper hit and I can't believe how many people asked me for the recipe. I love having you around and I promise I don't just invite you for the slush, but you know you have to bring it every time now.
6. Too many people to name brought wonderful vegan food and I love you all (the ones who came without food too!!). I'm always a little worried about opening events up as a "potluck" since the world is not vegan and I don't want to stress people out about bringing a vegan dish when they themselves aren't vegan. In this non-vegan world, our home is our sanctuary, the one place where we know what ingredients are in everything. I prefer to just provide all the food so no one is inconvenienced and I don't have to worry, but when you are talking 100+ people it comes in handy to have people bring something to share if they feel comfortable doing so. It takes an amount of trust to open up the house to a vegan potluck when we are the only vegans attending, but we have the sweetest and most thoughtful friends in the world and over the years I've realized that many of them want to bring something and enjoy making something we can eat. We have several friends with various allergies and/or food sensitivities and I really enjoy making something safe for them. Parker is wonderful when it comes to thinking of what our friends can eat safely. He helps me plan foods which will be fine for everyone (avoiding nuts and other allergens). We also made several wheat-free items and I hope to get better about providing some completely gluten-free food next year. Here is a picture of the wheat-free cookies from Eat Drink and Be Vegan (Oatmeal Raisin Cookies and "Tickled Pink" Vanilla Sprinkle Cookies...I also made the Sunny Pineapple Yogurt Cake with Orange Glaze, but I don't have a picture).
7. Todd, Rob, and the boys went to one of our favorite Thai places (Thara Thai) the night before the party and Rob invited the owner to the party. She said she didn't think she would make it, but to give her a call the next evening around 5pm. Rob felt guilty that she was obviously going to give him something, but accepted it graciously. The owner gave him a huge dish of tofu pad thai and a platter of appetizers for the party. We really do have the best people in our lives and everyone loved the food!
I loved talking to everyone, but one of the bad things about so many people at one time is I was so busy I didn't get to talk to any one person very long. We are already hoping to get it together for another big party later in the summer. Hopefully, those who couldn't make it this time will be able to come and I'll get a chance to talk to those I missed talking with this time. We appreciate all the love and friendship we receive daily from our wonderful community. I also appreciate my husband and I'm so glad he is in my life and hope he's around for another 46 years.