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Have I mentioned how much I love these ladies?!

I had been looking forward to our next supper club for weeks!  And like always, these ladies never cease to be amazing and fun.  Casey and Ashley co-hosted our December supper club in the Pearl district in Downtown Portland!  Our significant others were also invited which made it SO fun!  All of the girls were able to make it except for our sweet Camden who had given birth to her first baby the day before!  (Woo Woo Camden!  We missed you!)  I am sad to say I did not take a picture of all of our food!  I’m not sure what is wrong with me!  It was a spread like you’ve never seen!

Beautiful invitation for our December JLP Supper Club!

The theme was surf ‘n turf!  Ashley made an incredible pork tenderloin and Casey had fantastic salmon!  I brought bacon wrapped green bean bundles (a family favorite) and a mushroom and rice dish.  We also had roasted potatoes, candied yams, a spinach salad with pecans and pears, AMAZING cornbread, and spaetzle!  I had never had spaetzle before but I loved it!  We had a bread pudding dessert and peppermint bark that was melt in your mouth good.  And after typing all of that out I’m regretting once again that I didn’t take a picture!

Beautiful ladies. Courtney, Caitlin, Shannon, and Larissa
Hostess with the mostess! Casey and I!
More lovely ladies! Ashley, Kate, myself, and Casey.

William had met a few of the guys before, but I am so glad he got to met the rest of the gang. Everyone mixed and mingled so well…not sure why we wouldn’t but it is wonderful how well we all get along.  We do all share one important thing in common…the South (well other than Shannon and she’s our Northerner that we love dearly).  One thing is for sure about Southern women, we’ve never met a stranger!  There is so much personality in the room when we all get together–makes for a wonderful time!

Funny side note, this picture pose was not my idea, however my mom has a photo just like this of her and her sister and some of their cousins at the beach years ago.  They have tried to recreate the picture a few times at different family gatherings and it always made me laugh.  Now look at me…doing the can can pose myself, WHICH I might add was no small feat in that pencil skirt!  And I would like to give a supreme shout out to Miss Courtney who has an excellently pointed toe in this picture!

If you only knew how hard this photo was to take…
Courtney and I…and me with a hilarious face because Ashley’s dog was licking my chin.
The OTHER hostess with the mostess!

A good time was had by all!  Already looking forward to January’s dinner!  Love love LOVE these girls!!!

Funny side note about Mrs. Ashley who I’m posing with in the above picture.  Her and her husband are amazing and we love them so much already.  But, when we were first meeting we realized that we have some really good mutual friends!  Ashley grew up right down the street from one of my little sisters in Pi Phi from college, AND Alex is in a program car dealership owners with a good friend of mine from home!  Texarkana is a small place my friends…but we get around apparently!  (in a good way!)  Small, small world!

The whole gang!
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Invite for our “Italian Night” Supper Club!

I was looking forward to our next Supper Club from the day after our first one ended!  We had such a good time!  Camden, our mommy-to-be, offered to host the second supper club because her first baby is due soon and she wanted to host before he was born (SO sweet of her by the way).  She picked an “italian style dinner party” as her theme.  Pasta and bread?  Sign me up!

The way we do our rotation, the month after you host, all you have to bring are beverages.  So I wasn’t in charge of any food this go around.  But boy can those other ladies cook!

Our wine collection for the dinner–notice the alcohol free Merlot in the middle for our mommy-to-be!! 🙂
And the running joke that we were going to steal Camden’s china because we all loved it so much.

Camden was so generous to offer to host before her baby was born.  I can’t imagine getting ready for a baby and throwing a dinner party at the same time but she did it like a pro!  One of the best parts of doing this in each other’s homes is seeing where we all live.  I’ve enjoyed getting to know these ladies so much but seeing them in their environment and their own home makes it really fun as well.  And let’s be honest, what Southern lady (and I mentioned in my first post that a lot of us are from the South) DOESN’T like an excuse to whip out all of her fancy china and serving pieces!?

Well Camden put us all to SHAME with her china.  We joked all night about how we were going to steal it.  I am fairly certain she still has all of her plates, but LOOK HOW BEAUTIFUL THEY ARE!  As a side note, when I got married I swore that I wasn’t going to be the lady with all of the dishes.  I was going to be practical.  All I needed was one set.  HA! Hilarious!  I’m worse than any one I know.

FANTASTIC dinner!

For our dinner, Camden had pasta with two different kinds of sauce: a traditional Bolognese and a creamy gorgonzola.  To.  Die.  For.  She also had prosciutto wrapped asparagus.  Casey brought bruschetta–probably some of the best I’ve ever had! Shannon brought a wonderful salad with pears, nuts, and goat cheese.  Larissa made chicken marsala that was insanely good.  And Caitlin brought these chocolate cookies that for the life of me I cannot remember which cookbook she got them out of but they were incredible!

Beautiful ladies. Caitlin, myself, and Larissa.
More lovely ladies! Myself, Camden, and Casey.

Needless to say, at the end of the evening I was quite full.  I cannot remember if I had mentioned this before but we’re going to make a little cookbook of all of our recipes!  Not sure how long we’ll go before we put it together but I am hoping a good while!  More time with the girls and more recipes!  I am in charge of photos so the handy dandy tripod made the trip to the supper club as well.  I promise I DO leave home with out it–though you never know when you’ll need a tripod!

Our next supper club is our holiday party and is going to involve girls and dates/husbands!  REALLY excited about that one because we’ll get to meet everyone’s significant other!  The theme is “surf and turf”!  I can’t wait!  SO thankful for these ladies!

Group shot! Myself, Camden, Caitlin, Larissa, Casey and Shannon!
Invitation to the first JLP Supper Club @ my house!

Several months ago I read an article in Gourmet Live called “Whatever Happened to the Dinner Party?”  It’s a great article, you should read it especially if you, like me, grew up with your parents (and grandparents for that matter) constantly hosting or attending dinner parties, supper clubs, card nights, etc.  I loved growing up around that.  To be quite honest, I think it takes a special person to really “entertain” and to do it well.  My mom is an entertaining master.  She could write a book about it!  There is a LOT that goes in to entertaining a group of people and most become very overwhelmed by the entire ordeal.

Now thinking back on all of the company my parents hosted and fed over the years, there are a couple of key things I have taken away from those memories that I am constantly trying to adapt into my home when we have guests over:

– Have an appetizer.  Dinner does not have to be ready when your guests walk in the door.  While some might disagree with me, I think having some cheese, wine, grapes, a dip, etc. for the first little while gets everyone’s appetite ready for your meal and allows your guests time to get comfortable in your home.

– Discuss your menu with your guests before they arrive.  There is nothing more uncomfortable than trying to fake liking a meal.  If your guests don’t eat chicken and you make chicken…well then you pooped in the soup!  Remember you’re cooking for them, not for you!  You can eat your chicken later!

 Serve your dinner family style.  This is just fun because you don’t have to keep getting up for seconds (and maybe thirds).  Just have the food on the table.  Most people grew up having meals that way so it is subconsciously comforting.

– Let the dishes sit in the sink.  You can clean them later.  Enjoy your time with family and friends while you have it.  You can clean up after they’ve gone home.  No one likes a hostess that spends her time fretting over a mess.  Embrace it.  (this coming from one of the most tidy people you’ll ever meet. If I can do it, so can you)

– Enjoy yourself (YOU, the hostess).  Your guests are going to feed off of your mood.  Put away the stress of your day, the stress of the meal preparation, last minute cleaning (or throwing dirty clothes in the basement), throwing everything in the basement…you get where I am going.  If you are comfortable and relaxed, they will be too.

Lets just say no one went hungry that night…
Our fabulous table spread! I had a pretty table setting but my table runner wasn’t working out with all of our food so it had to go!

I mentioned a few posts ago that I would be hosting our first Junior League Supper Club at our house. There is a great group of girls that I have met through my Provisionals class with the JL of Portland and we decided to do a monthly supper club.  I offered to host the first and I was SO excited about it. Not only do I love having people over, but this group of girls is great.  Most of them are tied to the South somehow…either they went to college there, have family there, moved from there, etc. so we all have that in common!  For our first “theme” we chose “Blue Plate Special” (since we’re all from the South) and decided to have a bunch of good, home-cooked Southern food.

JLP girls! Thank y’all so much for coming!

I like the way we decided to coordinate.  Each girl brought 1 item which made it incredibly easy on me as the hostess (except for the fact that I ran out of time after work and didn’t have time to dry my hair so it is all curly and crazy!) All I had to do was make 1 item myself and make sure the house was clean!  Check and check!  I did run out that afternoon in search of folding chairs.  Several times since we have moved in we have needed more seating and all we have are 6 dining room chairs.  I was thinking we were going to have a few more girls so I grabbed some metal folding chairs at Target for $10.00.  But it actually worked out perfectly.  We did miss our girls who weren’t able to make it, but I had 1 chair for every hiney!

Fried chicken, corn bread, black eyed peas, brussel sprouts, mac and cheese, and a salad! YUM!

Our “Blue Plate Special” menu?  Fried chicken (that was me), brussel sprouts, mac and cheese, black eyed peas, cornbread, and a salad.  With TWO kinds of dessert.  These ladies can COOK.  It was all SO good.  And since I kicked William out of the house for the evening, I made him a plate to eat when he got home.  He agreed, it was all very very tasty!

Courtney, Ashley and myself
Casey and I! The Alabama transplants!
Another group shot!

Our November supper club is right around the corner!  One of the girls offered to gather all of our recipes together after each dinner and put together a little cookbook for all of us which I thought was SO sweet and such a great idea!  All I can really contribute is being the unofficial photographer so I think I will nominate myself for that.  We can have pictures in the book or something.  Might give it a nice twist!

I am so thankful to have met these girls and to be in my first Supper Club!  It makes me feel oh so grown up.  As strange as it may sound, I know I will cherish each meal with these ladies just sitting, talking and getting to know one another.  No distractions from the TV, our phones, families, work, etc. etc.  Just plain ‘ole talkin.  Doesn’t get much better than that!

Caitlin and myself with the mommy-to-be Camden!

I realized this afternoon as I was plopped on the couch watching football with William how overwhelmed I am.  But not in the traditional way that you would think when someone says they are overwhelmed.  I’m overwhelmed in a strangely good way.

Today starts October.  Which starts (in my mind) fall, though here in Portland it has felt like fall for about a month now.  Keeping in mind that I’m from Texas and the weather in October there most of the time doesn’t even feel like fall, but that’s still my mindset.  Apparently it needs to be readjusted. Regardless, October enters in pumpkins, and sweaters, and boots, and my birthday, and Christmas is around the corner, AND my mind is FULL of parties and events and gatherings I want to host.  I, like every other female in America it seems, have a growing addiction to Pinterest which has just made my condition worse.

Now that we live somewhere that the weather is actually reflecting what time of year it is, I have so many things that I want to do and what feels like so little time to do it.  How much of a serious problem do I have that I am anxious about being able to host all of the get togethers that I want to before the rain sets in?  Answer: a large problem.

Not everything has a date set in stone yet, but here are the things I have planned for the next month and a half:

  • Hosting my first supper club with an amazing group of girls from the Junior League of Portland (that I have recently joined)
  • Making a trip, tomorrow actually, to Sauvie Island to not 1 but 2 amazing pumpkin farms.  And yes, William is thrilled this tradition has followed us to Portland
  • Hosting a pumpkin carving party with our newly created little “woman’s crafting group” started by the amazingly talented lady behind Always With Honor.  (side note, I was PUMPED to be included in this group.  All of the ladies are incredibly talented and I was thrown in the mix–thank God!! They are inspiring and crafty and just plain amazing.)
  • Celebrating my 25th birthday with new friends in less than 2 weeks
  • Heading to the Oregon Coast for the first time since we’ve moved here with my parents to celebrate my birthday when they come in town
  • Potentially hosting a Halloween party at our house!  I should rephrase.  I want to host a Fall Carnival.  I’m not kidding.  I’m really excited about this one.
  • Host a weekly dinner for those who are “cashing in” their wooden nickels at Dixieland Delight.  I’m going to make posts about these…I’m pretty excited about them.
  • Lastly, hosting a football/tailgating party at our place a little later in the season (might have to move into November for this one).  Our new friends up here think our passion for football is quite comical and I want to have people over for a real football party to give them a taste of what being a fan (in the South) is really about!
WHEW!  I’m telling you I could be the world’s best party planner.  Not really, but I do enjoy throwing a good party.  I am making a post about this mostly because I think getting all of my ideas out in the open will force me to see them through.  I am so thankful our new friends here in Portland are just plain fun people.  They’d totally be down for all of this.  Otherwise we’d be partyin’ alone!  Calling out to all my party people in Portland!  Get ready.  The Bryants are about to show you some fun!
I have also promised myself to post 3-4 days out of the week until the end of 2011.  Starting today October 1.  I am actually doing a little personal experiment with this.  Hoping I impress myself.  Happy Fall everyone!