While my childhood was far from “normal” (a story for another time), my childhood friends hold a special place in my heart. The bonds that were formed through the intensity of a restrictive church are really quite remarkable. Growing up in a closed, nearly communal environment wasn’t exactly healthy, but somehow the love that we felt for each other has survived.
I had a visit from my childhood friend Sharon with whom I reconnected a couple years ago – she brought along her younger sister who, while now going into her late 20s, was only 14 the last time I saw her. We had a great time, and it was as if no time had passed. I love that. It was so comfortable – and comforting!
Anyway, I doubt you want to hear all the gory details, so I’ll just stick with what I originally wanted to post!
The days leading up to the girls’ visit had been a bit rough, and I hadn’t had time to even think about what to serve for lunch. So I turned to the tried and true, fresh and easy and served up a little light lunch that was colorful, elegant and quite tasty. It’s a great last minute, no-time-to-cook, impressive spread that takes little to no effort!
1. Lots of fruit…I’m all about presentation, and these little skewers present really well, and take only a few minutes to assemble. They are great to have out as appetizers, and transfer to the table wonderfully as well. I bought the metal skewers on clearance at Target for $1.48 for a package of 6…I bought 7 boxes. The wooden skewers I picked up at the Dollar Tree.
Using the serving pieces of the same size creates uniformity that brings a finished look to the table. The small white bowls in the background are from IKEA – I believe they were $.69 each. I only buy plain white dishes – not only do they go with any decor, replacing pieces is far less challenging, since there is no pattern to match!
2. Drinks. Another easy and simple way to “dress up” a gathering is by making a special drink. I chose to make my Blackberry Sangria and Strawberry Arnold Palmers. Both can be made (and should be made) the night before, which eliminates the rush of trying to throw something together in the morning. For the Arnold Palmer, I used Iced Green Tea that I already had in the fridge and store bought lemonade. I tossed in a little bit of agave and then a whole bunch of chopped strawberries. Next time I think I’ll make a strawberry syrup to bring out the strawberry flavor more, but it was still delicious.
3. Eats. My go-to lunch recipe is Cashew Chicken Salad – it’s great on lettuce, crackers or as a sandwich. I didn’t have time to put out all the accouterments, but it makes a WONDERFUL sandwich when loaded with hummus, lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese. Again, this can be made the night before and set out for your guests to dish it up themselves! For a side dish, there’s nothing like lettuce topped with my Southwest Corn and Bean Salad: so fresh, so flavorful, and so darn easy!
4. Flowers. One of the easiest and most effective ways to make a space look “planned” is to put out some flowers. I have a rather extensive vase collection that I have picked up over the years…I have everything from Goodwill items to Waterford Crystal. The ones I use the most are smaller mouthed ones – they require fewer blooms, so they’re easier and faster to throw together. Single blossom mini vases are perfect for tables since they don’t interrupt the view across the table, and can be spread out and placed between serving platters rather than taking up a whole chunk of valuable tables space in the middle of the table! I’m lucky enough to have a decent flower garden, but picking up even a single bunch of flowers at the market does the same trick.