summer solstice dinner

June 21, 2013

We had such a nice party last night, twelve good friends getting together to welcome visitors from New Zealand.  I firmly believe that people make the party and know I have the loveliest friends who arrive with smiles on their faces ready to have a good time.  It doesn't matter how much or how little work I do, it's really the people that make the party.

We planned to sit outside and the weather behaved for the most part, but I had a stack of shawls for the inevitable chill.  Even while I was determined to sit outside, honestly, I am the first one in the house when the weather turns.  When it did get chilly I wrapped everyone in shawls and we all looked quite beautiful and felt very warm!

The dinner menu was easy peasy.  We served wine from our recent trip to the Mendocino wine country, the 3 pictured are from Meyers, a happy accidental stop we made by mistake and turned out to be one of our favorite tasting rooms.  My husband loved their cab and wanted to buy a big magnum (is that what it's called? anyway it's that big bottle) and save it for a party, so this was the time.  We also bought some Chardonnay and Rose, I do love Rose for summer.  All the veggies were from our garden, just picked that morning, one friend brought the appetizer and another friend brought the cookies. A neighbor brought over a bag of plums so added them to the cookie tray.  I made two trays, one for each table.

You know I have a lot of parties, big and small, and I plan for each one the same way, a bit of detail planning and a bit of winging it, and the parties I like best are the parties I keep simple.  This was simple, but pretty and fun.  When we're outside the garden is always the star.  Before dinner we took a little turn around the garden with a glass of wine.

I took lovely leisurely pictures of the set up before the guests arrived, but once I set out the food it feels all frenetic and I stop and say "I need a picture" and my husband looks at me like I am out of my mind.  The foodie shots were taken in two seconds, I was allowed one shot per platter, oh the pressure!  I don't do any of this alone and have to give a wee shout out to my hubs who was the bartender, bar-be-quer, outdoor furniture cleaner and second in command of the clean up duty.  After our guests leave we spend half hour cleaning up, I can't bear to wake up next morning to see a mess.  I always fill the dishwasher, spot the linens and put them in the washing machine, then hand wash the big platters, he drys.  All that's left in the morning is put it all away and enjoy the memories and the flower arrangements! 

 I hope you all have a great weekend!

Menu and links at the end of the post.

Gathering up the napkins and tablecloths, here, a colorful mixed up jumble of patterns from Le Jacquard Francais.

Nasturtiums and dill in aqua jelly jars.

Pray that the weather holds out.

Hand knit shawls just in case!

Arrangement for the buffet table.


Mascarpone Cheese with Fig Citrus Jam and Rainforest Crisps

Roasted Beet and Orange Salad 
Rice and Green Beans

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  1. Gorgeous! I honestly got hungry just looking at this post (although it is lunchtime at the moment)!

    I just love it that you had your handknit shawls for people to wear when it got chilly!

  2. That's what happens with some of the shawls you knit ... what a lovely idea. Love in every stitch, wrapped around your guests keeping them warm.

  3. Love your colorful table linens with the nasturtiums. That salad looks really good too. Fresh beets are my favorite! I'm jealous that you got to wear shawls! Usually it's so hot over here, there is no way we can sit outside and enjoy it.

  4. Love your point about keeping things simple and how it's about the people. This all looks so lovely and inspiring. Adore the idea of the shawls. I'm going to a midsummer fest tonight organized by two young Swedish friends, held in another friend's garden. Happy that i get to be just a guest this time, but i'm making a blueberry lemon cake for it. Wish i could be as disciplined as you abt the immediate cleanup. Maybe will try that sometime :-)

  5. Looks like a lovely party! And wow, the food looks great!

  6. Love your blog Kristen and the yummy photos. What a super hostess you are. If I lived a just little closer and snuck myself in, would you notice? I wouldn't be any trouble! I promise :)

  7. I KNEW those shawls would be hand knitted!!!! I just KNEW it!!! And they're all so pretty! That is a really special touch, Kristen, that I'm sure isn't lost on anyone!!! I'm guessing that regular visitors even have their "favorite" that they dive for every time!

    The simplest parties ARE the best because we can concentrate on what's really important. Even your "simple" parties are a luxury, though, because of all that you put into them from your heart as well as your head.

    You guys seem to have about the same after-party routine that Ramon and I do! It's a joint effort to get certain things done that will help us to not be freaked out when we wake up the next morning and come downstairs for breakfast. Spot cleaning and soaking those linens overnight is another really important duty that pays off big.

    Very colorful, very pretty, and I'm sure VERY appreciated by all your guests!


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