Getting ready

This weekend we will have a bunch of people descend upon our house to eat and sleep and play and I can’t wait. My whole life is revolving around the event, what to cook, what to clean, where to sleep everyone, etc. For the last month we’ve had an ongoing list of all the gory details (much of the stuff needed to get done anyway but got added to the list so that we could pace ourselves).

Despite our carefully penciled lists—first, a column for each week and now a column for each day, and some days have several columns each—my husband still goes about approaching the festivities in his own special way. Which means he spends prime work time tackling projects that we did not even discuss.

Now, lest you think I am criticizing him, let me explain. My husband has a unique way of working, and it is very different from how I get work done. I clean methodically, with a list that I check frequently to note my progress. I adhere to the belief that cleaning involves the basics, like picking up, dusting and vacuuming. John, on the other hand, cleans like a whirling dervish, one who spins off on side tangents.

Like painting the picnic table.

And like painting the kitchen stools,

with the help of all of the (thrilled) children, no less.

I can’t complain because those are both things that really needed to be done (plus, when strongly encouraged to focus, he attacks the bathrooms and floors with the same intense ferocity)—I just didn’t think they needed to be done at this time when so many other things, like installing a screen door, building shelves, and installing my magnetic knife strip, really needed to get done.

But as you can see, he’s done those things, too.

Of course, I’ve been known to stray from the list, too, so I don’t have much room to talk. On Saturday, in the midst of John and the kids’ paint fest, I took shelter in the kitchen to make a margarita cake.

Because that’s a really important thing to do when my to do list is a mile long and boring as a dried up old bone.

Perhaps John and I aren’t so very different after all?

Of course, on top of everything else the weather has to go and give me fits. This week we’re having 75-degree sunny gorgeousness, but starting Saturday it’s calling for solid rain for days. This wet outlook has given me a serious case of the Triple Ds: I am daunted, depressed, and deeply disturbed. I moaned about it to John a dozen too many times (he ought to consider it an intensive course in how to handle a bummed-out me—he could put it on his resume), and wallowed in the depths for awhile.

But then I read this line in Misha’s blogRain shouldn’t stop you. There are always slickers and fleece hats. And then set out a towel by the front door—and I started to feel slightly up. I also resolved not to look at the weather anymore (but then I peeked this morning—no change).

So anyway, that’s what’s up with us these days. I’ve been cooking a little here and a little there, squirreling away the finished scones, granolas, marshmallows, etc, in jars and freezers. I hauled the plant pots out of the toolshed and stuffed them with bright colors, (mostly) ridded the front porch of spider webs, and washed curtains and bedding.

marshmallow goo

It’s starting to feel good around here and I’m beginning to think we need to host weekend bashes more often, because no matter our cleaning-method differences, it appears that both John and I work well with deadlines.

Margarita Cake
More a formula than a recipe, and inspired by—oh, cwap, my delicious bookmark thingy is down. I’ll update as soon as it’s back up.

Add 1-3 tablespoons of lime zest in your favorite plain yellow or white cake batter. As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, brush the top with 1/4 cup of tequila. Ice the cake with buttercream that has been jazzed up with 2 tablespoons each of fresh lime juice and tequila. Sprinkle more lime zest over the cake.

I think this could be made even more margarita-y with the following changes:
a) make it in a layer cake, and after brushing the cakes with tequila, invert them on a rack and brush the bottoms with a hot lime-sugar syrup, and
b) put a layer of lime curd underneath the buttercream (for just the tops, not the sides, of the cake).

P.S. Completely off-topic, but you need to know this: canned apricots and pandowdies were made for each other.

Take a quart of soft-to-the-point-of-mushiness apricots, add a couple tablespoons of cornstarch that has been mixed with a half cup of sugar, heat till thickened and dump in a pie pan. Lay a piece of buttery pie pastry over top and brush with cream and sprinkle with sugar. Bake till bubbly and brown. Take the pandowdy out of the oven, slash it vigorously with a table knife, and return it to the oven for another five minutes.

Cool to room temperature and serve with whipped cream.


  • melodie

    I'm getting ready for a wedding in 3 weeks and my husband keeps delving into these side projects too–not on my list. !!

  • Cookie baker Lynn

    It looks like between the two of you (plus kids), you're getting a whole lot of work done. Good thing you thought to bake up such a delicious reward!

  • Anonymous

    Me neither! Wait, wait! Kate is coming???? I thought they couldn't go?! NOW I'm EVEN MORE EXCITED!!!! WHOOOOOOOO HOOOOOOOOOOO!

  • Margo

    pandowdy – huh. I've been educated and it looks like it will taste GOOD.

    My husband works the same way yours does. I do love me a good hosting event to finally get motivated to get the house in shape!

  • Aimée

    Such fun! I wish I was I coming to crash for a few nights. I have a feeling it would be the best of times.

    LOVE those kids hard at work painting stools.

  • Mavis

    #1 What's going on over there? It must be something good if you're painting, installing screen doors and cleaning bathrooms…

    #2 I cannot believe you have a magnetic knife strip… it's rather scary looking…seriously… I barely stand to look at it.

    #3 Don't forget to take lot's of pictures!

  • Misha

    Oh, I cannot wait to read this post to my daughter. She'll feel so famous. : ) I have tried so many times to talk her out of running when it was pouring, but she's just too able to see it still as fun. : )

    (I'm still trying to see it that way myself!)

    I LOOOOOOVE those stools and want to see them all finished really bad!

    Having company always gets our big jobs done, too, but I hope you have energy left to enjoy and soak up all the folks who want to be with you!

    Sending love…

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