A Very Hearn Housewarming

How is one supposed to write these party recaps?
“Top Ten Tips to Throwing a Great Housewarming Party.”

I just want to tell you about what happened at my housewarming party, the good and the could-have-been-better and what I learned from it.

Is that okay with you?
Good? Good.

We love our new house so, so hard, that we were afraid to have a housewarming party.
Isn’t that silly?

Being too afraid our beautiful new home would somehow be taken from us that we put off an official housewarming party.
Well, it’s ours for now.
And it was time.
(Tip #1 Commit to a date for the party. Ha! See? I couldn’t help myself! Tips!)

We planned to grill sausages and shrimp.
We planned to open up all the doors and set the picnic table.

Cheddar corn chowderBut with the weather report claiming a high of 55 degrees and thunderstorms, grilling wasn’t on the menu.
Since I have two wee ones, well, neither was an elaborate dinner party.
(Tip #2 Know your limitations!)

I looked to the weather for inspiration.
I decided on a soup and panini bar.
I could make the soups in advance, just buy the bread, meat and cheese.
We could make it cozy, snuggly and fun.
(Tip #3 Decide on a theme.)

I’d done a design project for wine trade. This took care of party wine.
Friends brought a tasty punch. Beers in the cooler. Sodas in the fridge.
(Tip #4 Save money where you can.)

paninigrillWe bought deli roast turkey, salami, soppressata, and ham. We bought sliced Havarti, American, Cheddar, Monterey Jack and Provolone.

We took a baking sheet and filled it with ice, setting the plates with cheese and meat on top. This kept the meat and cheese cool for the remainder of the party.
(Tip #5 Don’t give your guests food poisoning.)

We filled a basket with bread and more bread. We set out pickles, pickled peppers and more pickled peppers. And although I’m not usually a buy it if you can make it lady, the pickled peppers added just a little extra something to make life grand.
(Tip #6 You don’t have to make everything.)

We served bocce pasta salad as a side dish.
We had planned to serve veggies, but we didn’t have time.
People still loved the soup and sandwiches.
(Tip #7 Sometimes everything doesn’t go according to plan and it’s okay.)

I realized around seven pm that I hadn’t taken any decent photos of the party — I was really disappointed, I mean, I wanted to share all the tastyfun with you guys. But I was busy enjoying my party.

Next time I’m totally hiring someone to take photos of my party. Someone being that bored 15 year old flipping through a magazine on my couch.
(Tip #8 Hire a high school student to take photos of your party.)

Our answer when folks asked what they could bring?
A plant. That was our answer.
And holy smokes, our guests delivered.

Housewarming orchids

Orchids, lavender, mint and basil.
Fuschias, rosemary, aloe and more orchids.

Like the rest of you, we don’t need more stuff, and are thrilled to help nurture our new plants.
There’s something about the gift of a plant that inspires you to take even better care of it.
I mean, how can I let Ben’s orchid die?
(Tip #9 Be honest when people ask you what they can bring.)

For dessert?
Chocolate cupcakes with strawberry frosting.
We put the pirate decorations on because, well, we had them.
Also, when I added the strawberries to the buttercream frosting,, the frosting broke, so I had to cover it up with something.

Strawberry chocolate cupcakes
(My new neighbor Michelle told me that you can re-set a broken buttercream frosting with a blowtorch. I remain skeptical. Doesn’t that sound like the saddest thing in the world? Broken buttercream, sigh.)

That's my jam!My favorite part of the evening was when that aforementioned 15 year old on the couch opened my new Readymade magazine and my friend and party guest Joseph’s glasses — not his spectacles — his Govino glasses, his cool, reusable/recyclable wine glasses were featured on one of the pages. (He hadn’t seen it yet.)

It was so fun to see our little slice of St. Helena life, our little piece of housewarming cozy, our friend’s success bubble up into a celebration for us all.
(Tip #10 Record the moments that make your party special.)

Dottie is munching

Themed Potlucks: Macho Food

Bocce continues to be awesome.
Justin, Boccissmo

You want to start a local league, don’t you?
(Yeah, I thought so.)

We were playing the team Boccissmo.
Tonight’s potluck theme was “Macho.”

We feasted on Double Downs.
Double Down

And Man Casserole.
Man Casserole

But James and I brought Mussels.
They’re macho, right?

I’d never made Mussels and was a little scared. But the fish monger guy totally helped me out – and they turned out tastytastic.

Mussels and Sausage

Macho Mussles Recipe

6 sausage links cut
1 large (28oz) can Roma tomatoes
3 Tablespoons olive oil
3 shallots
5 cloves garlic
1/2 cup white wine
2 pound mussels
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Salt and Pepper

Brown sausage in hot cast iron pan, set aside.
Drain tomatoes and chop. Chop shallots. Mince garlic. Chop parsley.
Heat olive oil in large skillet, add chopped shallots.

Heat oil over medium high heat or until shiny.
Put chopped shallots in pan, cook for 2 minutes, add garlic, add salt and pepper. Add wine, cook for three minutes.


Add mussels. Cover skillet with aluminum foil and take a deep breath. Steam for 3 minutes. Add sausage and tomatoes. Toss. Cook until most of the mussels open.


Sprinkle with chopped parsley. Serve with grilled bread.

Weekendy friendy.

Well, hello!

I think I’ve mentioned it before, we’ve been thinking and working and writing lists.
My old life feels uncomfortable.
James’ old life feels uncomfortable.

We feel a change in the air.
We keep our eyes open for signs and opportunities.
We struggle with questions like,
“What am I here to do?”
“How will we support our family?”
“Should I pursue this next new thing?”

It gets better when we spontaneously decide to go to a friend’s cabin in Guerneville for the night.
We brought the babies,
we experienced our first projectile car vomiting.
We sat around a fire, we watched the little ones run and run.

In the morning, we were served mimosas and amazing lemon-brown-sugar blueberry pancakes.
(The kids ran and ran and ran some more.)

My favorite, nay, most refreshing part of the evening?

Upon arrival, BMay handed us the most delicious drink.

Watermelon Fresca.

Water Melon (Bon Appetit!), originally uploaded by * }-{@

Recipe: Subtlety Snouts

As I mentioned, this week’s Themed Potluck for bocce was Medieval Times.

I have to admit that researching Medieval foods was the most fun I’ve had by myself in some time.


The peasants, the kings and the nursemaids, all with their pocketfuls (used like a cup measurement) and their counting houses.

Most interestingly, I learned about Entrements and Subtleties.

Did you know that Entrements and Subtleties are foods served at the end of courses?

Subtleties were derived from an older meaning of the word “subtle,” meaning clever or surprising. Subtleties started out as porridge served between courses and grew into a sort of wacky presentation of food.

The apple in the mouth of the beast, Subtlety.
It was to mimic the look of the animal in the, er, wild.

Sing a song of sixpence?
Four and twenty black birds baked in a pie was a real thing, yo.

The Challenge:
I wanted to come up with something that represented an animal, could be served at the end of a course, was fairly surprising and was suitable for bocce consumption.

The Solution:
Subtlety Snouts

Subtlety Snouts

They’re sausage wrapped with puff pastry in the shape of a pig snout. They’re thyme-scented deliciousness dipped in Dijon mustard.

1/2 pound pork sausage
1/2 package puff pastry (I used Pepperidge Farm)
3 sprigs thyme
1 egg white, beaten
Salt and Pepper

Let the puff pastry thaw on the counter.

While you’re doing that, remove the thyme leaves from the sprig and chop. Mix the thyme with your pork sausage. Roll the pork sausage into 1 inch balls. Brown the pork sausage on top of your stove.

After your puff pastry’s thawed, dust your surface with flour and roll the puff pastry to roughly a 1/4″ thickness or about 16 inches long and 10 inches wide.

Cut the puff pastry the long way down the middle.
Cut the puff pastry across, into 1 1/2 to 2 inch pieces.

Puff Slices

Roll the sausage ball with the puff pastry one way, then take another piece and roll around the other way. You can see it in the image above, in the lower left corner.

Just wrap one piece north and south on the globe of thyme sausage and then wrap another piece east and west.

Cover all the sausage balls with the puff pastry.

Brush the puff pastry with the egg white and put in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400