Monday, October 15, 2012

A Gnome-Themed Dinner Party for Mom and Aunt Laurie

Click to enlarge.  :)
When Mom mentioned a month or so ago that Aunt Laurie would be visiting the weekend of October 5th, I knew I wanted to do something special for them as a thank you for the sweet little anniversary party they put together for me and Mike in April.  In 2003, I made a Halloween meal during Aunt Laurie's fall visit, and almost a decade later, she's still giggling over the beef-stew-in-a-pumpkin pot and the sour-cream-and-black-olive-topped-potato-"ghosts."  By this September's end, I had decided to greet Aunt Laurie and her family with  a gnome-themed dinner the evening they arrived.  Mom and Aunt Laurie have a thing for gnomes.  Their flower gardens are full of them, they find odd little gnome gifts for each other, and they openly admit to wishing that they could live in miniature mushroom houses.  I had wanted the meal to be a surprise for both Aunt Laurie and Mom, but since I was holding it in Mom's house, I had to let her in on it, and in about two weeks, in letters and phone conversations, we planned our gnome-themed party.

I found gnome and toadstool stickers, 
and gnome napkins and tiny table decorations.  
Click to enlarge.  :)
Mom mentioned one night that she'd been making a small table-piece of a toadstool table and chair set for Aunt Laurie to keep and that she had found two garden gnomes on an end-of-summer clearance sale table.  Mom bought autumn-themed paper dinner and dessert plates too.  All of that with a scattering of autumn leaves, pumpkins, and gourds seemed like decoration enough. 
   
I focused on the menu and arrived at my parents' house October 4th with bags of groceries and baking supplies.  Aunt Laurie and her husband and son were to arrive the following evening, so less than an hour after I walked through the door that night, Mom and I were running into each other decorating her kitchen island with all our gnomes and I was baking toadstool cupcakes and gnome-shaped sugar cookies.  As we laughed and tripped over each other, we would spot yet another everyday kitchen item that was suddenly striking us as looking distinctly gnome-ish--"The funnel!  It's a gnome hat!  Look!"--and Dad could be overheard muttering, "Crazy, crazy, crazy" from the living room.  Before Mom went to bed that night, I finished transforming a yellow vinyl tablecloth into a dinner menu-backdrop to hang behind her kitchen island, and we laughed some more as we looked it over together before saying goodnight.
Click to enlarge.  :)

Since I was doing all the cooking and baking, I stayed up to get a head-start on everything I could.  I went to bed in the early morning Friday and got up again to continue cooking around 1:30 in the afternoon, about four hours before Aunt Laurie was to arrive.  And when I finally did see Aunt Laurie and her family pull into my parents' driveway at 5:00, I shouted to Mom and Dad, "Stall them!  STALL THEM!" as I put the finishing touches on the food and took a final few pictures.

Everything on the menu was gnome-themed, and except for the cupcakes, since she doesn't like cake much, everything was gluten-free for Mom. 

We had pasta with meatballs into which I'd rolled-up salami-slices to make "gnome heads-wearing-gnome hats," and tomato-mozzarella "toadstools" with Parmesan sprinkled on top:
Click to enlarge.  :)

We had two baskets of "gnome hats"--chocolate-peanut butter Bugles and plain Bugles--and I cut gnome shapes out of garlic bread dough to make gnome-shaped bread:
Click to enlarge.  :)

 I made a tray of fruit "gnome kabobs" and a tossed salad with toadstools carved out of radishes:
Click to enlarge.  :)
And for dessert, gnome-shaped sugar cookies:
Click to enlarge.  :)
and because we like what my mom calls "a wide assortment," toadstool house cupcakes:
Click to enlarge.  :)
 and frozen yogurt gnomes with whipped cream beards and, of course, waffle cone hats:
Click to enlarge.  :)

When Aunt Laurie walked in, she immediately saw the decorated kitchen and all the food, and me standing beside it, grinning like a fool, and Mom and I laughed in delight at her surprise over everything. 
Click to enlarge.  :)
I adore Aunt Laurie, if this isn't beyond clear by now.  If I weren't my mother's daughter, I'd be hers.  Who besides me and Mom gets such a kick out of themed food, after all.  Just watching her ooh and ahh over our crazy menu and decorations was fun enough, but I still had to show her, my uncle, and my cousin "The Tree."  Knowing none of us is the wear-a-gnome-hat-for-photos kind of person, I had instead edited a bunch of photos of the six of us in attendance at our little family dinner with the addition of gnome hats and gnome outfits and attached them to the limbs of a decorative tree Mom keeps in her dining room with garden twine, toadstool stickers, and twinkly Christmas lights  If we laughed over the food, we positively howled over the Tree photos. 
Click to enlarge.  :)


Click to enlarge.  :)
Click to enlarge.  :)
Oh my gosh, this was truly all so funny.  My dad, uncle, and cousin had long since headed into the living room to watch baseball or football or whatever it was, and Mom, Aunt Laurie, and I just laughed like loons as we looked at all the pictures and food.  I caught Mom's eye at one point and we just smiled at each other.  I think I can speak for all three of us when I say that if you asked us a hundred years from now about some of our favorite moments together in this life, we would all remember to mention our laughter during this silly gnome party.  While everyone got settled to eat and Aunt Laurie took a few photos with her camera, I escaped into my parents' bedroom for a minute to send Mike, who had had to stay here for the weekend, a jubilant little text message:  "Aunt Laurie arrived a few minutes ago.  Is giggling over everything and loves it all.  Mish-shone accomplished!"  :)
Click to enlarge.  :)

In addition to these cell phone pictures, I took an entire roll of film that night with a disposable camera Mom had bought for the occasion, and I found out from the one-hour photo place yesterday morning that for the first time in the 25 or so years I've been taking pictures, my entire roll of film was blank.  Blank.  An entire roll of film just--somehow--gone.  The store developed it, and it was just blank.  A bad camera or a bad developing job, who knows.  My photo of me hugging Aunt Laurie beside the Tree:  Never to be seen.  The one of Mom and Aunt Laurie laughing beside the gnome-themed buffet and big menu:  Gone.  The candid shot I captured of Aunt Laurie just as she walked in and saw the party for the first time:  Blank.  I spent a couple hours upset about it yesterday, and then I decided just to get on with things.  Aunt Laurie will share whatever photos she took, and I have the cell phone food pictures and at least this one blurry cell phone picture of Aunt Laurie beside the food and photo-tree, 
Click to enlarge.  :)


and that, with my drawings (which will be saved to include in future scrapbook-gifts for Aunt Laurie and Mom) will have to do.  Memories of this little shindig won't fade anytime soon, after all.  Aunt Laurie sent a thank you note this past week expressing as much.  'Updating now to add that she has passed along the following photos she took:
Click to enlarge.  :)

And even without more pictures from the night, "gnome is where your heart is" anyway, as Aunt Laurie and Mom would giggle and remind me. 

9 comments:

Thistle Cove Farm said...

Val, you are SO thoughtful and kind...you make life sweet for your family and know they adore you. The party was fabulous and the memories will last lifetimes; I'm sorry about the photos yet glad you have some.

Val said...

Thank you, Sandra. ♥ 'Hope you have a good day there. :)

Lisa said...

Val, this is all too hilarious - my favorites are the garlic bread gnomes! What a memory. Unfortunate about the photographs, but who will every forget any detail of this?

Lisateresa

Val said...

Thank you, Lisa. :) It was such a goofy night, so much laughter. :)

asmplelife said...

What an absolutely amazing party you threw for your mom and Aunt Laurie! I can't get over all the tiny little details you managed to pull together. Nice, nice work! And I love gnomes, too!

Stephanie said...

What a wonderful party full of love and such fun details! Plus lots and lots of gnomes! :) We did a gnome party a couple of years ago but it was small peanuts compared to your gnome-tastic shindig! :)

Val said...

Thank you, Cheryl and Stephanie. :) I myself am not really a "gnome person" and feel quite "gnomed-out" at this point! :)

Swistle said...

SO CUTE. SO FUN.

Val said...

Thank you, Swistle. :)