Sunday, December 7, 2008

dining well

I have pictures of Santa and other fun weekend stuff, but first I just wanted to make a quick note of our neighborhood dinner Friday night.

First I want to say if any of you know even just a couple of your neighbors I think this Progressive Dinner thing is one of the best ideas ever.
If you're not familiar with it, what happens is you take turns "progressing" through dinner with a stop at each house of the friends involved. Of course you can do this with anyone... by all means you can drive from house to house, it's just quicker and simpler if you're able to stay within your own block! The first house is where you'd find appetizers, salads, before dinner drinks, etc. Then you would move on to the next house to have the main entree. The following house would provide a mountain of desserts and maybe one last house would be for coffee or afterdinner drinks. You can do as many stops as you want, combining or breaking up the menu to accommodate how many people you have involved. If you need to add another house, separate an appetizer stop and then a soup/salad stop, etc. Also, as we do, if you have a lot of people involved you can double up on courses; two neighbors host each course at one house.

This year we had four stops with eight families participating; 16 adults and 21 kids (if you count the babies!). I teamed up with our backdoor neighbors to do the first stop of drinks and appetizers (hosted at their house). Our spread included a huge platter of chicken fries, some veggie pizza, potato bites (thanks Nicole, these were a HIT!!... and so easy!), cocktail sausages, fruit and chips and dip. Yum! I thought it would be too much food and we wouldn't be hungry for the rest of the meal, but it was just right. There's so much grazing and mingling and conversation and laughing over a little more than an hour at each house that you never really fill up and it's just a really long nice leisurely meal.

The second stop was across the street for some amazing (authentic!!) Italian dishes for the main course. That was really yum! Eventually we all made our way to the next house for desserts; a cinder cake, brownies and a chocolate fountain complete with fruit, marshmallows and other good dippables! It was almost 10 by the time we rolled our big bellies walked next door for after dinner drinks. J made two awesome recipes that I will have to get for future use... a "holiday nog" that had ice cream and Kaluha, and a punch she called "Merry Christmas Scarlett" that was basically a slush of cranberry juice, lemonade and Southern Comfort. It was so delish; it was a good thing my tummy was already so full, so I didn't drain her punchbowl completely!

It was in between the last two houses that we decided our kids were done and needed to go to bed. Last year Ryan and I just put them to bed and then took turns staying with them while the other of us went back and forth to the house where neighbors were still hanging out. That's when it works well that the party is just across the street!! The plan was the same this year, however when I took them home and got them in bed and they were both out cold in less than five minutes and then I sat there for another fifteen minutes by myself twiddling my thumbs, I decided to grab the good ol' baby monitor. I stationed it in our upstairs landing outside both of their bedrooms which is actually the spot in the house where you can hear everywhere. I grabbed the reciever and headed across the street to test the reception. Clear as a bell! Ryan went back over to check on things and test out the monitor and I could hear him perfectly. So we were both able to rejoin the party, keeping half an eye on our house across the street and with one of us running over to physically check on the kids every 15 minutes or so (just because I was paranoid!). We hung out until about 11:30 when things started dwindling down (and others had to finally get their kids home to bed and weren't so conveniently close as us directly across the street!!).

Anyway. We all had an absolute blast and it was so nice as with the weather having been so cold lately, we haven't had as much chance to visit with all the neighbors as we usually do... especially as compared to the summers when we all spend so much time outdoors together! It was really nice to have such an enjoyable evening with so many people. Once again I am reminded of how thankful we are to be in such a great neighborhood... such a community, such a great base of fun friends so close by.

I didn't bring my camera, but a lot of others took a lot of pictures that I'm dying to get my hands on. We took group pictures of all 21 kids (with the Santa Clause that made an appearance!) as well as a few attempts (with several different cameras) at a timered group shot of all us adults. The group pictures of us were taken at the third house so some of us by that point were a bit "happier" than others!
As soon as I get those pictures I'll plug them in here as well.


Anonymous said...

glad you liked that appetizer! i could have eaten them for a meal that day...

Nicole said...

Sounds like a blast! I might have to attempt to organize this with the 4 neighbors closest to us.

Nicole said...

Next year, that is LOL! I'm going to be hosted out with Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve alone.

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