Tuesday, July 21, 2015

It Never Rains In California

I love throwing parties.  I love the prep and planning, the cooking, and even the cleaning that leads up to the big day.  I'm not really the spontaneous party person, though.  I'm more the methodical, thought-out, well organized party planner.   About a month in advance, I'll plan out an invitation list, have invitations printed up and draft a menu - everything from snacks to sweets.  Weeks before, I'll start comparison shopping for the best prices, start buying groceries, and fire up the stove for the food preparation. Days before, I have lists of to-dos ready to go, I'll start cleaning and lay out what dishes I want where.  I'm not saying that come the day of the party that I'm a Martha Stewart maven that casually walks about gently setting out plates whilst wearing my pristine apron.   But there is a method to my madness, and when the party begins and I see everyone eating and talking and laughing all inside my home, that's when I smile and know it was all worth it.  Everything goes off as planned, the food is good, the drinks are cold, and everyone is having fun.  I truly get a great feeling of joy and accomplishment out of my parties. And at the end of the night, I put a drink in my hand and pat myself on the back for a job well done.

Needless to say, when the days got longer and the temperature started rising, the first thought in my mind:  POOL PARTY!!  So I rallied the troops (OK, troop - Nick is extremely helpful, Domino just kind of lays there and supervises); and into full party planning mode I went.  Invitations were created, addressed and sent.  Unfinished projects around the house were finished.  Outside areas were landscaped, cleaned and prepped.  The pool was cleaned and made ready. 

As the date of the party got closer, the more into the zone I got. 

Lists were made:

what?  who doesn't need emergency gummy bears for party prep?

I decided to get creative and try out recipes for new beverages:

Basil Lemonade (recipe below)

And condiments:

Ketchup from the tomatoes in the garden!
Then the shopping began and my counter top started disappearing:

Everything was falling neatly into place.  As planned.  So the day before the party, I'm feeling confident.  Prepared.  Relaxed.  I'm ready.  I'm shopped. 

I'm....looking at the weather forecast.

Rain???  RAIN???  We're in the middle of the worst drought in SoCal history...and the one day of my one outdoor pool party it's going to.....RAIN?

I refused to panic.  I went about my business as usual - cleaning, organizing, food-prepping.  Perhaps the storm will blow over.  I'm sure it will be fine. 

Nope.  Not quite.

Now me, being me, I felt everything in my brain start to unravel. I am a planner.  I am organized.  I am not at my best in the spontaneous, carefree, let's-change-everything-at-the-last-minute situation.  As I stood watching the raindrops hit the pool, the pool that was supposed to have people laughing, swimming and sunbathing in it just mere hours from that moment, all of the ideas and plans I had for the day disappeared with the sun.  My spirits started to sink as I considered all of the food in my refrigerator and drinks already chilling in the tubs.  I had a patio design perfect for entertaining.  I had an umbrella to keep people in the shade.  I had cute poolside themed plates and napkins and whatnots for a sunny pool party.  I felt absolutely unprepared for a wet, dreary, rainy day.  So I did what any reasonable person would do in this situation. 

I laughed. 

It was water falling from the sky - the entire sky didn't just fall on my house.  This wasn't the end of days.  People were still going to come, they were still going to want to eat, drink and have fun.  So I stepped out of my well-planned, uber organized self, and did something I hardly ever do. 

I winged it.

The cute poolside plates, napkins and whatnots came inside:

even the flamingo
The umbrella was used to keep Nick dry while grilling:

And we all watched as all the kids ended up going swimming in the rain anyway:

the 8, 10, and 31 year old kids, that is.

It wasn't how I planned it...and yet, it kind of was.  The food was still eaten, beverages drank.  And everyone laughed and talked with everyone else.  And about halfway through the party, I ended up putting a drink in my hand and patting myself on the back anyway; not for a party well planned, but for my ability to step outside of myself and not have a complete meltdown over such a trivial matter.

There are times that I get so wrapped up in my world of perfect organization and design that I forget to just let life happen.  And despite lists or strategies, sometimes the unexpected just happens - and you can either be flexible to the changes and see where it takes you, or freeze and go nowhere. In hindsight it seems a simple enough idea...and yet in the middle of the storm it's easy to forget the sun is still shining in the sky above the clouds. 

Maybe I'll host another pool party in a week or so.  I still have some leftovers beers in the 'fridge, the pool is still a lovely shade of clear, and we're still in a drought. 

Rain or shine...I got this.

Basil Lemonade - 
1 cup sugar   
3 1/2 cups cold water
1/4 - 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
In a small saucepan, over medium heat, bring the sugar and 1 1/2 cups cold water to a simmer. Simmer on low without stirring, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture thickens slightly, about 5 minutes.
Remove from heat, add the basil, and let cool to room temperature. Strain the syrup into a resealable container and discard the solids.
Make lemon water - 2 cups water to one cup freshly squeezed lemon juice. Mix with one cup basil infused water and chill. Add more basil water if needed for sweeter pallets :-)