Sunday, July 29, 2007

It IS a wonderful life

This weekend was one of those that I didn't want to end. It was just that perfect.


Friends from college had their annual summer party -- this was the 12th or 13th year, I think. Loads of other fellow alumni came into town. Our closest friends from school stayed with us, along with their two children, who are the same ages as ours.

Pete and I spent the morning cleaning, trying to make our house appear as though we don't normally live in filth and squalor. Surfaces were dusted. All nooks and crannies were vacuumed, including two sets of stairs, which should tell you how intense this cleaning frenzy was. I baked a double batch of brownies as part of our food contribution, which, given my confession of the other day, should tell you how important this party is in our social calendar.

The party hosts live 20 miles away, in the country. Lots and lots of rolling country. Big hills, lots of them. Pete biked to the party, leaving well over an hour before the girls and I did, and arriving about half an hour after we did. Here's the view from the hosts' back deck:

Do you see that road down yonder and all that downhill stuff beyond? That's just a taste of what Pete biked. When he got to the party, he joined the children in the pool to cool off:

The pool was the official Fun Hangout for all kids 12 and under. Great for the parents of the older ones, because we could sit poolside with our drinks and munchies and supervise from a dry spot. Parents of the toddler set, however, had to get in the pool to keep their kidlets from drowning.

At 4:00, dinner was served and, as always, it was delish. Pork BBQ, a variety of salads and side dishes made from fresh-from-the-garden ingredients, and two kegs of locally-brewed beers. Dessert was a waistband-busting spread of cakes, cookies, brownies and bars, and so forth. We all ate until we were stuffed and then we went back for seconds.

After dinner, Elegant and a couple of friends hopped into the hot tub and gave us a preview of Spring Break 2020.

Presumably, the fun noodles will one day be replaced by something more grownup, which I don't care to dwell on at this time.

Around 7:30, we rolled home. We four adults sat around talking and laughing while the four children played until bedtime. They were so tired from all that swimming that they didn't argue when we announced it was time for lights out.


Pete made chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast before our guests headed home. I went for a three mile walk, which was the extent of my major endeavors today. I also did four loads of laundry, which was the most ambitious of my chores today. Otherwise, I was largely at rest most of the day.

We spent much of the afternoon in the living room, reading the Sunday newspaper and other things. I savored the newest issue of Dwell magazine, before moving on to another book. Elegant and Graceful each enjoyed the comics in turn:


... and Graceful

Note that they're sitting on My Precious.

We snacked on cheeses, crackers, and apples all afternoon.

A short while ago, I decided to unfold myself from the sofa and check out my gardens before the predicted afternoon storms rolled through. The girls and I harvested the first basil of the season:

Then Elegant and I processed about four cups of leaves into about one cup of basil paste:

Elegant was a very helpful assistant and did a good job. We snipped the leaves from the stems, washed the basil thoroughly, and then chopped it in the food processor with a little olive oil to make basil paste. Elegant helped me spoon the basil paste into an ice cube tray. She was very careful and didn't spill, saying, "I don't want to be wasteful." We froze the basil paste and will enjoy pesto this winter.

A huge storm has just rolled through and it's hailing amidst the rain, so I think it's time to turn off the computer. Luckily, more books await.


Flutterby said...

I grow tons of basil and make gallons of pesto and freeze it up in little cups for the rest of the year. I am usually using up the last of it just as I start harvesting again. Want a good quick recipe? Cut Roma tomatoes in half lengthwise and scoop out; fill with mozzarella (*real* is best but chunky block kind works ok) drizzle pesto on top and stick under the broiler to melt the cheese. yummmmmmm!!

Jennifer said...

Flutterby: Thanks for the recipe! I love the idea of broiling the mozzarella inside the tomatoes! Hopefully I'll find some good maters at the farmers' market this week -- only one of our plants survived a visit from the deer and this one plant hasn't produced yet. Lots of good looking green tomatoes though!

We freeze our basil in smaller amounts, because we sometimes only need a couple of tablespoons for pizza sauce or a soup in the winter.

Three summers ago, I had so many plants that it took us two years to eat all that frozen basil paste! We now know that six plants is a good number for our family.

In the past, we've also grown our own garlic, although the yield was so much more than we could handle, so now I just buy it as we need it.