Joy to the World

Hearing that our Irish friends will soon be going home across the pond, I decided to throw another international party.  This time, it went holiday style.  After all, it was December 1st.

The decor was a little bit Christmas around the world and a little bit vintage sweet shop.

I chose to invite families this time, not just women, and we wound up sharing a few special happenings.

For a few minutes the party happily became a celebration for Faith and Sal, who were married 21 years ago on the first day of December in Baghdad, Iraq.  Happy anniversary!

Faith and Sal cut their anniversary cake.

Some of the guests got a cooking lesson as Tippy from Thailand introduced us to roti, a yummy Thai flat bread.

Tippy’s son fries the roti while Noah from Zambia, Oscar from Guatemala and Tippy’s American husband Michael converse in the background.

Tippy tells Miriam from Germany and Sandra from Guatemala that she likes to put sweetened condensed milk and a little salt onto the roti, then fold it up and cut it in half with scissors.

Tippy’s other son gave us a Kung Fu demonstration!

Fa la la la la, la la Hi-yah!

Sydney and Tanner were happy to have friends of theirs here to play with.

Sydney with her Irish friend.

Chien from Taiwan with two of her children and Tanner.  Several little hands found the cookies they brought, and they were gone in a flash.

Lots of candy disappeared too.

Kerry was happy that there were men here to talk to.

Kerry, Sal.

He was also pleased to see that there was plenty to eat.

Sandra from Guatemala displays her fabulous chicken salad embellished with mixed veggies. Essie from Zambia tempts us with a tin full of Walkers shortbread.  Not exactly the most African of desserts, but we don’t care!  I want another cookie right now!

Faith’s phenomenal curry beef and rice with golden raisins and almonds.  Just a hint of curry.  Just right.

Judy from China with the scrumptious pork and teriyaki sauce that she brought.

Miriam offered some delicious German sweets: stollen (powdered sugar-covered fruitcake), and lebkuchen (chocolate-covered gingerbread)!

This beautiful glass plate came with her from Germany.

I provided this tray of sweets from various countries. When Miriam noticed the chocolate wreath cookies (schokoladen kranze), she told me she used to string them on the tannenbaum.  It’s a common tradition.

I need to learn how to say “YUM” in several languages.

I was tickled that once again we had people from so many lands and cultures gather at our home.

Seen here for the first time are Judy’s husband Andrew, Faith & Sal’s son Brad and his girlfriend Britney, and Fiona from Ireland.

Chien and Faith.

Me, Tippy, Miriam, Essie, Judy, and Fiona.

Having met a few people since my international party in August, natives from a total of 31 countries and two US territories were invited to these get togethers.  Just in case anyone is wondering which ones, here’s the crazy long list:   Brazil   Canada   China   Egypt   England   France   Germany   Guam   Guatemala   India   Iraq   Ireland   Japan   Jordan   Kyrgyzstan   Lebanon   Mexico   Netherlands   Philippines   Puerto Rico   Romania  Russia   Slovakia  South Korea   South Sudan   Spain   Taiwan   Thailand   Trinidad and Tobago   Ukraine   USA   Wales    Zambia

Half of the places on the list were represented. If everyone I invited had come at the same time, we would have had to quickly move to a bigger house!

Once again, I’m grateful to all those who did make it here on that very busy December Saturday.  Here is one more token of my appreciation.

Brad takes a bag of goodies for his family to share when they get home.

Sandra and Oscar.

Have a lovely holiday season!  Whether you’re celebrating or not, there sure are a lot of pretty lights to see, and many reasons to be joyful.


Book Club–The Scarlet Pimpernel

Time travel. That was my goal.  After reading The Scarlet Pimpernel, set in 1792 England and France, I wanted to take all the book clubbies to that setting as we discussed the book at my home.

I would say that my house has a “cozy chateau” style, and people are naturally taken just a bit to another time and place whenever they walk in.  I wanted to push them further back and farther away on this occasion.  That meant a little rearranging again.

You may remember that in the movie Somewhere In Time (Jane Seymour plays in that as well as in the 1982 movie version of The Scarlet Pimpernel ) one of the characters is immediately transported from a past century he was visiting to the present day when he pulls a coin from his pocket and sees the date on it.  I didn’t want that to happen to my friends before they were good and ready to leave the 1700’s.

I couldn’t very well have my husband’s electric bass guitar and amplifier staring at them as they entered! I replaced them with my cello.  I gathered all the antique-looking chairs in the house and garage for the book lovers to sit in.

I did not remove the kitchen appliances or the flat screen t.v.–though I’m sure it crossed my mind.

For a couple weeks, I became an 18th century junkie.  I wanted to know what music people might have been listening to and what books they might have been reading then.  In what plays might one of The Scarlet Pimpernel‘s characters have performed with the Comedie Francaise?

Second-hand book stores! Don’t they just have the best finds imaginable? I frugally picked up just one more for my old book collection before making these displays. It has writings of John Locke and a brief biography of him. What a fascinating person he was!  And I’ve only read a little so far.

I delightfully discovered Copperplate calligraphy, the beautiful style of writing used in handwritten friendly letters and formal writings like The Declaration of Independence.  Of course I wanted to try it myself!  I picked up some parchment paper from an office supply store and gave it a shot. I tried various black pens. I tore and inked the paper edges to look antique and possibly burnt.  What fun I had!  I wish I could write in that style from now on, for everything.

I wanted all the details–the paintings of people dressed in Georgian period attire that I printed off the internet, the maps of Europe, the red flower on all the handwritten notes, etc.– to help us feel like we were right there in the story that we all enjoyed so much.

And the food! French pastries, English toffees… It wasn’t difficult to think of what to serve; it took admirable restraint to not purchase and place on the counter a few morsels of every French delicacy I saw as I shopped.

Hooray for 2nd hand stores like the one where I got this ceramic horse-drawn carriage for $20! In less than two weeks it will go to a 3rd home as my mom’s Christmas present.  She will adore it. Shhh…don’t tell her.

Christy is about to try a few treats.

My $10 copper pot was invited just to add ambiance. It is of course 2nd-hand, as are the bell jar, the teacup and saucer, and the milk bottle. I didn’t have a specific purpose in mind for those lovelies when they came across my path; I just knew they’d feel comfy chez moi.

Lynette and Adrienne enjoy lingering with bookish friends.

Book Club Baby listens contentedly to our conversation, and to Mozart and Haydn in the background.

Not everyone felt like having her picture taken that evening. That’s okay! I certainly don’t want people to stay away from my home in fear of the camera. I should probably go take the “Beware of blog” sign off the house right now.

Have a lovely day!  And I hope you’ll have a chance to stroll through a good book.


“Hearty” Potatoes

Potatoes, packed with vitamins and other nutrients, are often part of a hearty meal.  You don’t usually find spuds as “hearty” as these at your local grocery store! These conjoined or “Siamese” twin veggies were a fun surprise, sitting with their regular-shaped kindred on the vegetable stand at Fry’s market.  I couldn’t wait to show them to my children.

One is baking right now.  I’ll have it for lunch in just a bit… twice baked of course, packed with sour cream and cheese.  Here’s another photo to see while it’s in the oven.  The photo was taken almost two weeks ago.  Time to get these taters eaten so they aren’t wasted.  That would be tragic.

And here is my lunch.  Well, there it was.  It was delicious!  I’ll bake the other potato (or should I say potatoes?) for my kiddos when they get home from school.

They’re home!

We had a good time with their special spud today. Sydney noticed that it looked like two eyes, so we made it into a very long-beaked owl face.  The kids both gobbled up their own half of it. I wish all food was as easy to divide fairly as this!

And it’s December 12th (12-12-12 in fact).  What a great day for multiplicity!  If I had time, I’d do another blog post.  But I need to go clean up the kitchen.  There is a multitude of dishes awaiting my attention.

Have a lovely day (or two)!