Personal Statement

Personal Statement

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Poor Man's Sandra Lee

Yeah, yeah - long time, no blog. I've been busy. Busy finishing out my year as Junior Club prez, busy keeping up with my kids, reasonably busy at work (bad economy considered) - and busy planning parties. See, 2010 didn't start off with a bang - it started off with a dull thud. Actually, the dull thud was heard late in the evening on December 23rd, being the first night of my Christmas vacation, and that thud - sounding much like the sound of an avalanche [ooh, foreshadowing] - was followed by a second, and then a third. The last one finally lured me from my place on the bed, into the bathroom and around the corner into the walk-in closet - where I witnessed a scene of total destruction. Two-thirds of the wire shelving had pulled from the wall, and the contents were in a smoldering mound in the middle of the room. Okay, no smoldering was involved, but it was easy for my overactive imagination to add it in, given the size of the "debris pile."

And, yes, technically it's not a room, it's a closet, but it's an almost-room-sized closet, which is a BIG part of of why we purchased our house out of all of the houses we looked at in Arlington Heights. Like most homes built in our neighborhood in the 1920's, our place started out with one living area, one bathroom and teeny-tiny closets. The prior owner, however, had added a second living area (with an adjacent laundry room - forgot to mention that un-updated Arlington Heights houses also have washers and dryers in the kitchen) and a small master bath. When he showed us the second bathroom, he was somewhat apologetic about the size, and explained that he and his wife opted for a small bathroom in favor of . . . a large walk-in closet. Yeah, I stopped listening at that point. SOLD! As closets go, it was pretty much move-in ready - his-and-her storage towers, wire shelving all of the way around, with one area earmarked for guy clothes (how can you tell? The racks are mounted higher on the walls) and a much larger area earmarked for girl clothes. Mr. Closet and me got along quite well for nine years or so - and then he betrayed me.

As irony would have it, I had planned on spending the two days after Christmas reorganizing my closet; specifically, I was going to tackle the large pile of purses and shoes that were blocking my access to the closet's nether regions, forcing me to lunge and swipe wildly to retrieve clothes hanging on the upper back rack. Guess I swiped one time too many. All of that wild swiping - and hard jerking of hangers off of racks - had weakened the shelf brackets to the point that they snapped, first on the back wall, and then everything went "TIMBER" after that. So. Hmm. Spending the Christmas holidays rebuilding a closet - neither appropriate nor feasible. Thus, I went into the first week of January dressing myself from a pile on the floor. The plan was to get through New Year's and then replace the shelving, using more secure brackets.

And then my husband - well, my husband was my husband. Always seeing another option - and always doing his utmost best to make me consider those options. Buying a car, selecting a new camera, picking out carpet - it's all pretty much the same. I refer to it as the Parnell Eye Test: "Which one is better - this one [sound of the eye test machine clicking into place] . . . or this one?" There's always another possibility, and we must discuss it ad nauseam before moving on . . . to the NEXT possibility. Lately, it seems like he's been making an effort to fake me out - leading me to believe that, THIS ONE TIME, he'll let me go with my gut (as I am wont to do) and won't do the whole devil's advocate routine. The closet was no exception: he asked me if I wanted to do anything differently, and I told him no, I was fine with everything just the way it was. The day before the re-do was scheduled, he pulled out one of his patented, "Let me propose another option."

VERY long story short, he convinced me to give up a considerable amount of hanging space to make room for a totally kick-butt corner unit that holds all of my bags and accessories and a ton of folded clothes. Yeah, I admit it - this time he was right. But the reconstruction project ended up being considerably more complicated as a result, involving much stud-finding, drilling, bent drill bits, cursing, threats of divorce, yada, yada. In the midst of all of the madness (and I do mean madness), I ventured out to acquire certain specific closet organization items. And, per my usual - I dithered. Much like I'm doing in this post, huh? (I promise I'll get back to party-planning in a minute.) I stopped at the Import Store in downtown Fort Worth - home of many a cool decorator sample - and stumbled into a 50% off wholesale bonanza. Placemats! Tablecloths! Really cool serving pieces! Then I went to Super Target to procure Rubbermaid totes - for the clothes closet. Except I ended up using them to store the new table decor. Then I decided that it made more sense to organize the new decor along with the old decor. (That screech you hear is the temporary derailing of the clothes closet project. To his credit, my husband did not screech when he saw me dragging in multiple plastic totes - and new stuff to put in it. Rather, he just rolled his eyes.)
When I pulled out my existing table decor - turning a totally separate closet topsy-turvy in the process (yup, that's just how I roll) - one thing became apparent: I have a ridiculous amount of table decor. Much of it that never sees the light of day. And in that moment - in the midst of a week where I'd sent a good portion of my wardrobe off to resale - it also became apparent that I needed to use what I had, or get rid of it.
And so the concept of the frimily brunch was born. ("Frimily" is the term that friend Robyn uses to describe one's coterie of close friends - they are friends who have become family.) I love to entertain, I love my frimily, and obviously I love my clutter - why not invent an excuse to indulge all three loves? Brunch seemed like an obvious choice - easy to fix and easy to fit into everyone's busy schedules. So I pitched the idea, and the frimily approved. Official rules are as follows: food and decor must fit the "theme of the month," and food must be matched with a theme-appropriate "signature cocktail." Unofficial rules: at least one featured dish must be a Pillsbury Bake-Off recipe (it's not brunch unless something has refrigerated crescent roll dough or Grands biscuits as a crust), and the dogs' bandannas must also be coordinated with the theme. That's it. We get together, we eat and we drink. We laugh - a lot. Everyone is encouraged to bring their significant others, their children, and their children's friends. The children are encouraged to bring their Wii remotes - as are the adults.

January's brunch - in addition to featuring a tour of the new, improved closet - had a "Stock Show" theme and incorporated a jalapeno-egg dish, a really killer (Grands-based) Tex-Mex Breakfast Casserole, and cowboy coffee cake. To drink: spiked sweet tea. February's Valentine's menu tended to the sweet side, in keeping with the holiday. The biggest hit - Cupid's arrow fruit kabobs with watermelon "arrowheads" (cut with a heart-shaped cookie cutter) and strawberry-marshmallow Peep hearts on the ends to serve as the feathers. In March, I incorporated both spring holidays, using Peeps in an Easter-themed centerpiece and topping cinnamon rolls with jelly beans. St. Pat's selections included Corned Beef Breakfast Casserole, O'Brien Potato Salad and VERY green margaritas. (Hey - we're in Texas, not in Ireland. Margaritas go with everything.) March was particularly memorable due to the fact that we developed a leak under the kitchen sink on Friday night before a Saturday brunch. Our incredibly fabulous plumber was there with a new drain pipe first thing Monday morning - but on Saturday, we had to drag out the paper goods and styrofoam cups, and serving pieces were washed with a big ol' bucket under the drain trap. Fortunately, the frimily didn't mind stepping around the giant box of cleaning supplies rescued from under the sink. Guess that's what makes them frimily . . . .

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