It’s time again for our annual alternating “Have a Party because it’s Cold and Not Christmas” party, this year taking the form of hors d’oeuvres with our many friends. Vivian and I had to work to keep two cabin-feverish kids occupied while prepping food and tidying up the house, which meant taking Aaron to my parent’s house, to Burger King, and to the Park for some quality father/son time. Then both of the kids got to have a sleepover at Grammy and Pop-Pop’s house as we got some quality adult time on our own.
(Picture of our kids dressed up for no reason is unrelated to any of this.)
Then on Saturday night, we opened our doors for an Hors d’oeuvres Smackdown, and there were plenty of worthy competitors. We had bruschetta from Lexi, quesadilla bites from Jon, sausage pinwheels from Jenny, Scotch eggs and ceviche from Phil, bacon-wrapped pickles from Amanda, asparagus risotto with pretzel bread from Libby, Shrimp from Kate, and Greek-inspired stuffed potatoes from Frank. Vivian had plenty of her own “healthy” (non-competing) hors d’oeuvres, of course — roasted chickpeas, strawberries and goat cheese on crackers, Buffalo Chicken Celery Boats, and Loaded Zucchini Skins. (I had one special addition of my own, much to Vivian’s irritation.)
The winner was Lisa with her Gorgonzola Bites, which got six votes (from tasters too proud to vote for themselves). She received a special prize for her victory — a pig in a blanket! Vivian and I also got some special prizes of our own from Phil and Jen — a pair of matching T-shirts that will likely be worn again at our other food-related events.
After the judging, we broke open a couple beverages and played a few rounds of Wits and Wagers together before calling it a night. It was another successful food-related event. Just writing about it now makes me hungry!
The long, cold weeks of January always seem to need something to brighten them up (after all the holiday bliss of December), so Vivian and I have been having alternating post-Christmas parties involving food for our friends. This year, it was time for the hors d’oeuvres party. We invited our usual cluster of hilarious friends to bring their best bite-sized nibblets, including Korean Tacos, bacon-wrapped jalapeños, peanut butter and jelly bites, and other Fantabulous goodies. Amanda won this year’s pig in a blanket for her Cheddar Bacon Pecan Pizza, a close second to Frank’s grilled pepper sirloin on a baguette.
We finished off the evening with some Fact or Crap and Just Dance down in the basement.
Then on Saturday, I got to see my second President of the United States in less than a week — William Jefferson Clinton. Yes, he’s gotten a bit older since the days of Monica, but Willie’s just as slick as ever. I actually enjoyed his speech much better than that other President who came to town, and his call for bipartisanship even seemed genuine. The usual cast of characters was there, of course, including Fake Security Guy waiting to get a picture autographed.
I must say, as a solid conservative who’s now seen Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and now Bill Clinton in person, there’s something to be said for crossing the red/blue divide. I’ve found democrats seem to want many of the same things republicans do, but each side sees the world in a completely different way. There’s much we can learn from one another if we let our guard down and listen.
I’m still planning on voting for Marco Rubio, though.
January tends to be a quiet month, with the chaotic bustle of three months of holidays and parties having come to an end abruptly with the turning of a new year. As such, Vivian and I have started the tradition of hosting food-sampling parties at the end of January, cheese parties on odd years and hors d’oeuvres on even ones.
We hosted our second hors d’oeuvres party on Saturday with a handful of our culinarily-savy friends: Phil and Jen (of course), Cameron and S. Jael, Jenny, Libby, Tamra, Mark, and Lisa. We also had an unexpected guest early on in the evening: a fluffy little dog named Po who came knocking to come in out of the cold. I gave her a ride home as the rest of the gang practiced their moves and got ready for a showdown.
As usual, we had a lovely assortment of contestants: shrimp, bruschetta, chicken salad, blue cheese cookies with fig jam, chicken peanut salay, and a handful of other worthy contenders. Vivian and I broke out some baked brie and garlic, escargot, and even some caviar, adding to the European flavor of the evening’s dishes. The winner of the night was Phil’s smoked salmon puffs, which were made some scratch. (He even smoked the salmon himself!) We had some games and movies in the wings for the rest of the evening, but as usual we wound up just enjoying each other’s company for most of the night with the help of Riesling and chocolate wine.
The next day at church, our Mongolian missionary Ingrid Kimmons dropped in to pay us a visit and share new from the far east. She came at the perfect time, since the polar vortex has drifted back north and left us with balmy 60-degree weather to enjoy. Hannah and her little friends got to play in the leaves after church, and then we took her to the park for a picnic lunch afterward. One thing I’ve learned about Nebraska weather is that there are plenty of gorgeous days to enjoy if you take advantage of them.
Last Friday, Vivian and I celebrated our Sushi Anniversary, commemorating five years since we first started dating, and four years since I proposed to her. Since our relationship officially started shortly after eating at Sakura Bana in 2007, we’ve picked a different place for sushi every year since then (including a trip to the seafood buffet at the Rio in Las Vegas a year ago). Our sushi venue of choice this year was the all-you-can-eat insanity of Wasabi on West Maple. Vivian and I came hungry and devoured two plates of raw fish and rice together and washed it down with a glass of plum wine.
Afterward, we burned off what we could at Jitterbugs Night Out. Grammy and Grumpy were kind enough to take Hannah for the evening so Vivian and I were able to dance until midnight with our friends, just like old times.
On Saturday night, Vivian and I upheld our new annual tradition of Doing Something in January to break up the post-holiday monotony the month of January usually brings. Our idea this time was to have an hors d’oeuvre party, challenging our friends to make tasty bacon-wrapped things impaled on toothpicks and other bite-sized morsels. The winner for the evening was Tamra’s googly-eyed crab rangoon, each of which were painstakingly shaped to have actual pincers of the sides. That was cute. Our grand prize was a plastic pig wrapped in a blue blanket. Get it?
Then somebody broke out the Riesling and all hell broke loose. The best part about parties with our friends is that Vivian and I can plan no specific entertainment whatsoever and we still wind up spending a few hours cracking up with each other. Jessica in particular bent over backward (or forward?) for our amusement in-between singing VeggieTales songs and being generally goofy.
Of course, adorable Hannah Marie also added to the fun of the evening. She got passed around to just about everyone, including Eric, who did a little dance with her on his lap that she seemed to get a kick out of. We wrapped up the night playing a couple rounds of Telestrations, concocting horrible new double-entendres that will likely be repeated ad nauseum for the next couple of weeks. (Anybody need to polish the coffin?)