Monday, August 29, 2011

Doomer Dinner Party?

For Deus Ex Machina and me, the storm was a non-event. In fact, it was less than a non-event. Even the wind wasn't terrible - to wit:

We had a party Saturday night with thirty-some friends (planned well in advance of the hurricane warnings and almost canceled due to the weather). It was dark when everyone left, and so, during the clean-up, we missed this one (recyclable) cup, and it sat outside, just like that, on the bucket, during the entire storm. I took the picture of it this morning, and it's still there, right now, as I'm typing.

We never lost power. Our water supply remained constant and intact. No trees went down. Nothing blew away.

Two years ago, I participated in a challenge to have a Doomer Dinner Party - the goal of which was to encourage us to think about what would be available if the trucks stopped coming.

Celebration is such a huge part of our human experience, such an important part, and really, I think it's one of those things that keeps us human. There's nothing quite so wonderful as getting together with friends and having some good food and some good fun.

This party was never intended it to be a "doomer" party, and in fact, it was planned weeks in advance of the storm that hit the East Coast this past weekend. Since two of our girls have birthdays when it's too cold to be outside and the other one's birthday often falls on a holiday weekend, we decided it might be fun to have one, big, family summer party instead of three, separate birthday parties. This was it.

With the weather, though, we talked about canceling on Saturday. As it turned out, we didn't have to, the party went on as planned, and (we think) everyone had a good time.

We enjoyed some modern conveniences. I cooked on my electric stove.

We also discussed the dish situation. Knowing that we didn't have enough plates to accommodate all of the people we'd invited, I considered going to Goodwill for more plates and flatware, and my original intention was to serve beverages in pint-sized canning jars. But we decided that buying MORE dishes with our limited storage space was not a good idea. At one point, we even considered asking everyone to bring his/her own dishes. In the end, we decided to buy recyclable, disposable dishes - paper plates (made from post-consumer paper) and recyclable plastic forks and cups. We had a box for the "dishes" and a bucket for the compostables.

For beverages, we served brewed iced tea and homemade lemonade in gallon-sized glass jars ;). So there were no bottles or cans to dispose of. After the party, we realized we hadn't generated any trash - everything either went into the recycling bin or into the compost bin. And since most of the food was home-cooked and most of it was brought into the house with only the packaging as nature intended (e.g. corn husks, melon rinds), none of the prepwork generated garbage, either.

The hardest part of the planning was deciding on what food to serve. Big Little Sister wanted pizza, but I didn't want take-out for our party, and we just don't have enough serving platters for home-made pizza to serve the number of people we'd invited. We came up with a couple of meal options, almost changed the entire menu on Saturday morning, and then, ended up going with the original plan, because it was less complicated than running to the store for supplies to make the alternative menu. The original menu was more involved, required a lot more cooking, but included, mostly, ingredients we already had at home or that we could pick-up from the farm stand right down the road.

Saturday afternoon, the girls had a dance fund-raiser at the Mall, and so most of the prep-work didn't even start until three hours before the guests were scheduled to arrive.

But everyone pitched in and really helped, reminding me of how amazing my girls and Deus Ex Machina are. The day also reminded me of what a wonderful community of friends I have. My friend, SnitchMom, got here a little bit early. I was still elbow deep in cutting up vegetables for the various salads we decided to serve, and she rolled up her sleeves, grabbed a knife and started slicing. Gar pitched right in, too, although she'd already spent most of the day cooking at home, and really was just ready to relax. And as all of the other guests started arriving, those who found me still in the kitchen offered help.

Several of the guests brought hostess gifts, which further reinforced how incredibly lucky I am to be surrounded by such a fantastic group of people. SnitchMom brought tomatoes - which ended up in the salsa -, and another friend brought us "Salsa in a Bag" - complete with fresh, plantable basil!

Dinner included: our homegrown chicken, a slow-cooked BBQ pulled pork, corn-on-the-cob cooked on the grill, pasta salad, potato salad, cole slaw, fruit salad, chips&homemade salsa, bread, and pizza bread (which Big Little Sister cooked by herself ;). One of our friends brought cookies, and we made S'Mores for dessert.

I think everyone had enough to eat. There was certainly a lot of left over food ;).

For entertainment, the girls performed. First it was music. Big Little Sister and her friends used the opportunity to introduce their "band" and give their first public concert. Afterward, she quipped that the night of the party was their first official practice and their first public performance :).

After the music, they pulled out tap shoes and most of the kids danced for us. We set-up a stage, of sorts, laying an old piece of stockade fence section on the ground for them to tap on.

Then, we roasted marshmallows over the fire and the kids ran off to play hide-and-seek in the dark.

The rain held off until after the last guest left, and we have enough leftovers that I won't have to cook for the rest of the week ;).

It was such an incredible evening and a reminder that the best things in life are often right where we are.

Good friends (old and new), good fun, and good food ... what else do we need?


  1. Sounds like a wonderful celebration, Wendy! Thank you for sharing your home, your family and your life with all of us. It's beautiful to feel the one-ness, as we all are.

  2. Glad it was a non event for you and you were able to keep your plans. We're still in the dark, waiting on CMP to be able to replace a pole that was taken out by a huge tree. I'm not complaining-- we bought a generator, so our fridge and freezer are safe, and I can steal some internet time along the way (and showers from friends with power). We still have friends who can't get out of their homes due to road washouts and flooding however. It was definitely worse around here than in Southern Maine. I count myself lucky that our only loss so far has been half of our apple tree-- which we're hoping to be able to save the fruit from before we have to cut it down.

  3. Wendy, so glad everything went well! Here in Southern Vermont there is devastation....I watched a torrent of rushing water surround our house, we were under a mandatory evacuation (except we didn't know it) our little town was surrounded by water and no way to get out. I am looking at the devastation surrounding us and just thankful my kids and I are okay!

  4. Sounds like a fun get-together. So glad you weathered the storm so well. Hoping and praying for those who didn't fare as well.

  5. I so remember putting on "shows" for the whole family at holiday time. As the oldest grandchild, I was usually in charge, but we busted out costumes, songs, and occasionally just got up in front of everyone and just stood there, talking about lord knows what. I had honestly forgotten about it until you mentioned your girls performing. I don't have kids (and probably never will), but I should seriously make friends with people who do, because I think that's such a lovely tradition.