Little House, Big Table

a place where real people gather

stays in the garden. Again, it’s not a fancy place. There is a pizza oven which was purchased last summer in lieu of a family vacation. There is always a tablecloth on the table, most (if not all) that were brought home from random Italian markets…and at a price point of no more that 10 euro each. And there is always a whole bunch of laughter and stories shared.

He’s saying ‘are you going to eat ALL of those???’

I’ve been keeping a journal of our parties for a long time now. It’s just a little notebook in which I put the date, who was over and what we ate. Sometimes I add a little story, sometimes it’s just the menu, sometimes a recipe if I tried something new.

Most times I update it a night or two after the party, sitting at my kitchen counter, sipping a cocktail that guy that I like so much has made. If he quit his job, he’d become a mixologist.

=)

It’s so fun to both look back and remember specific garden parties and also to get meal ideas when I’m in a cooking slump.

People really don’t care what they eat. They really don’t. BUT…and trust me on this – if you are going to serve fancy cocktails, have lots of food to soak up the alcohol. A bowl of nuts doesn’t cut it…but a bowl of pasta (even if no one eats carbs anymore) does.

My favorite cocktail to serve in the summer months is a Spritz. It’s been a thing in Italy forever, but now it’s a thing here too. I’m a purist…no ice, no sparkling water.

Italian Spritz

2 oz aperol
6 oz prosecco
1 orange slice

Pour aperol into a long stemmed glass. Top with COLD prosecco and an orange slice. 

Because it’s not just about me.

My family and I live in a little (as in LITTLE) house on a little street smack dab in the middle of southern California. We made the decision a long time ago to stay in the starter house that we could barely afford, because it turns out you can buy a house, but not a neighborhood.

And we like our neighborhood.

But more than that, it’s this little house that has raised so many, fed so many, blessed so many. And we know, without a doubt, what a gift we have been given.

There’s a saying…bloom where you are planted. And planted we were, and bloom we have, all those years ago.

While we liked the pink flamingos…our association did not. =)

There are a few of us who live, or have lived, here. There’s that guy that I like so much, who spends his life serving the church. And because of what he does, we have a ‘family’ that is huge.

The real branches to our vine are below. Three boys, our trio, all miracles with stories of their own. Their whole lives are journaled on my old blog http://www.ahousefulofboys.com, which I’d love to somehow move over here but have no idea how??? The poor guys have been written about for decades and are probably thankful for a little breathing room.

There’s Alex, our middle born. He’s the tallest and loudest of the bunch, who spends his days wiring buildings so the lights turn on and off. Every family should have an in house electrician,

There’s Matthew, our oldest. He lives in China, teaching music to college students. In Mandarin. He started a business there, too, so we question whether he’ll ever come home. So thankful for technology so we can talk lots!

And then there’s the exclamation point…Brian. He completed us. He’s a senior in college, working lots of hours when not in school and will someday fix all our aches and pains. For free I hope.

Alex, Brian, Matthew

As for me, I have a job that I like that allows me to be based from my home. It helps pay for college and humbles me daily. But most of all, I love to feed people. Give me a houseful, whether it be my boys or family or friends and seat them around our garden table. I want to watch the cares of the world leave them for a bit. I want to hear their stories, laugh and pray and cry and drink wine with them. I want their plates – and belly’s, full of food. Not just on the weekends…people need to eat every night of the week.

Don’t they?

Not so long ago in a far away country, we visited a garden.  It wasn’t big and it wasn’t fancy…just a small gravely courtyard full of plants and twinkly lights behind iron gates. In the middle of this garden were a few long tables with lots of candles and plenty of chairs all around.

We sat down, our family of five.  That guy that I like so much and I ordered prosecco, which was poured into a pitcher and served in small water glasses. It was the end of the work day for the locals and we watched as something special began to happen.  People slowly started to wander in.  Some stood and talked to each other while others sat down.  Drinks were poured and conversations began.  And soon, food began to come out of the tiny kitchen…home cooked food on big platters and in big bowls.  Everyone eventually sat down all around us and as the sun began to set more wine was poured, stories and laughter became louder and bigger, a basket of blankets appeared as the temperature dropped and slowly (or maybe not so slowly at all), the stress of the week left and the joy of the weekend arrived.

But here’s the thing…it wasn’t a Friday night.  Or a Saturday night.  It was the middle of the week…but it sure felt like a weekend.  And that garden?  It awoke something in me as I was eating a bowl of simply, yet lovingly prepared pasta.

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It was as if God very gently whispered directly to my soul…and suddenly, quietly, I just knew.

I knew we needed to venture back home and create a ‘garden’ of our very own. A place where people would be fed.

Fed physically.

Fed emotionally.

Fed spiritually.

Our house is small.  So is our garden.  There are lots of plants and twinkly lights and often times prosecco is poured into pitchers and served in water glasses. And our table? Well, it is always big enough for one more chair to be squeezed in.

This is my new place where I’ll share glimpses of our garden..what we eat, the stories that are told, the people who visit.  So welcome.  I’m glad you’re here.

~Michele