Back. And forward.

Dear friends,

Over the last few days, I’ve received the sweetest messages and calls from many of you. The good news is — I’m pretty much back to normal. I’m still stiff and I’m being careful about things like lifting and stooping, but I’m moving well.

(As an indication of just how serious I was about being careful, I’ve been wearing flats since Monday. In fact, I had a special event Thursday night during which I was on my feet for several hours. My colleagues noted they had never seen me wear flats. And, of course, that’s because I’ve always said the fastest way to lose five pounds is to put on heels. Alas, vanity took a back seat this week to health.)

The sweetest “get well soon” message I received was from my CupKate. She sent me a card with an old-fashioned handwritten message — catching me up on all things college. The girl knows her Mom, huh? I so adore handwritten letters and cards that I have saved almost all of them I’ve ever received over the years. In this digital era, I’m more than happy to stay in touch via blogs and texts and Twitter and Facebook, but nothing touches my heart like a handwritten note.

I’m spending Friday evening getting ready for a dinner party for 14 Saturday night. My menu is an homage to my mother and features classic American comfort food with a twist. I just finished making homemade croutons and bacon bits and blue cheese dressing (is there anything better than homemade croutons and salad dressing on fresh greens?), then I’m moving on to the prep work for a variety of dishes to compliment a roast pork loin and the world’s best mashed potatoes. The dessert — which I’ll make first thing in the morning — is Chocolate Mousse Layer Cake (click here to see a post I wrote months ago featuring this little slice of heaven).  My tables are only partially set, but they’re looking good, I think . . .

A table for 10 —

And a table for 4 —

During the last two weeks I have planned and attended five special events and hosted two dinner parties. I’ll be on the sofa Sunday in case you’re looking for me.

With gratitude {for a busy fall and a spine that’s mostly keeping up},

Joan, who invites you to notice her flower arranging skills but not the soap residue on her glassware



  1. Have you read Ree’s blog about Lemi Shine? It’s amazing for getting rid of soap film and you can buy it at WalMart.

  2. Dee — I somehow missed that. I’ve been pouring a half cup of vinegar in the bottom of my dishwasher every load and it’s helping, but my dishes are perfect yet. I’ll try Lemi Shine!

  3. Don’t tell me all those flowers are from your cutting garden. I’ve never been able to get a calla lily to bloom in Missouri (they grew like weeds in Calif.).

  4. Ah, M’del — you caught me! The arrangements are part purchased stems and part cutting garden/back acreage.

  5. Wow – if your cooking tastes as good as your tables look I can’t imagine how your family keeps from being at the center of a very special episode of The Biggest Loser.

    I thought that is/was the best reason to dine by candlelight? To make the all the ladies’ skin tones glow….aaaand to hide any watermarks on the glass/silverware? We have falling rain and temps here in Texas again. I’ve got an eye out to planning a special family dinner featuring your special potato technique.

  6. Deb — Mr. Mom and I had a long talk in bed yesterday morning that began with him saying “When did we get so old and fat?” The old part, okay, can’t be helped. The fat part? I’m in the midst of an existential crisis wherein I talk animatedly about how we’ve GOT to do something. If only talking burned calories! If only all my cooking burned twice as many calories as eating the food does!

  7. I dig those green chargers.

    I’m glad you’re feeling well enough to host a dinner party. I pretty much never feel well enough to host a dinner party. But that might be because of all the forced entertaining I do for my mother-in-law’s family. Your guests are very lucky.

  8. Glad you’re feeling better! I just love how you set the table. I need to invest in some linens and actual napkins.

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