What a glorious weekend!  The weather was unseasonably warm (summer like!) and it didn’t take much to morph back into summer mode after all the rain and cold weather we’ve had lately.  Friday night my son and I took my mom out to dinner.  What were we thinking taking an Italian to an Italian restaurant for dinner?  It was a side-show which I found entertaining but my son found embarrassing.  Ahh… youth.  Mom complained about her meal, sent it back for more “spices and flavor” and demanded to speak to the chef (which didn’t happen).  All 95 pounds of her (90 pounds of mouth) telling the waitress that “I’m Italian and I know how Italian food is supposed to taste and this isn’t it!” Pushing the plate away, folding her arms across her chest, (like a Queen would do if unsatisfied), I almost expected to hear “Off with your head!”  She settled for a new, tastier dish and drowned her wait time with warm rolls dipped in oil and spices.  My son, who up to this point had said nothing, looks at me and says “She just wasn’t meant to go out”…  He couldn’t wait to unload his two favorite girls and get on with his weekend plans.  Kudo’s to my son for hanging in there with two high maintenance women.  Later in life these memories (lessons) will be fondly remembered, I’m sure.

Up at the crack of dawn Saturday, packed the truck with food, firewood and rocks.  I head to the lake.  I always get so excited driving up to the lake.  Windows open, fresh air blowing in my face while the radio blares my new favorite songs.  It’s only at red lights, when I look around and see people giving me a horrified look, that I realize I’m not quite the rock star I think I am as I sing out loudly like I’m in concert or something.  Oops…

Unload the firewood, the rocks, the coolers and then immediately go and check out my lawn.  Still patchy from all the rain we had right after I planted, but coming in nonetheless.  Although I brought up more grass seed, I decided not to put any more down until the Spring.  I’ll have to consult with my personal horticulturist, Carlos, next time I see him.  Need to get ready for an afternoon boat ride, weekend guests (friends) and a dinner party.  All my favorite things!  The menu is well planned out and I’m sure will be well received.  It always is! 

I decided to prepare the appetizer in advance so it would be ready when my friends show up early afternoon.   I used Stonewall Kitchen’s spinach/artichoke dry dip mixed with sour cream and cream cheese and layered it on the bottom of a short casserole dish.  Then I layered Santa Barbara Roasted Garlic salsa on top of the dip mixture.  The third layer is mozzarella and cheddar cheese spread thick enough so you can’t see the salsa underneath.  Lastly I put a layer of sliced black olives and chopped artichokes on the top.  Sprinkle just a dash of fresh basil and garlic.   Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes (until cheese bubbles up) and serve with “scoop” chips.  A big hit!  George, Amy and Sophie arrived right on time and after they brought their weekend gear up to the guest suite, we enjoyed drinks and dip on the deck.  Marco and Baby J joined us shortly.   I must say the deck is so much more pleasing with the high chairs and new pub table.  Thank you George and Marco! 

Not a cloud in the sky, we set off for a long-awaited boat ride.  Captain Underpants at the wheel, the afternoon turns out to be nothing short of perfect.  After a few laps around the lake, we end up at Carlos and Sophia’s place.  Carlos is working but Sophia and her amazing daughter Jill welcome us on to the deck.  Within minutes, the deck is full of people and dogs visiting from all directions.  Clearly Camp Eureka is the highlight of the lake.  Personally, I love the warmth and charm of the camp.   When you pull up to the dock you are instantly greeted by Ralph’s wagging tail and smiling face.  He and Baby J are an item, I love to watch them play.  The only thing missing was Carlos…

On to dinner!  Amy and I head back to my house to start the preparations.  The lake is full of fabulous cooks and Amy is no exception!  We work well together in the kitchen, sharing each other’s techniques and shortcuts.  I love learning from her.  Dinner menu is comprised of minestrone soup appetizer, chicken and eggplant parm served on a bed of penne pasta.  Stuffed meatballs drowned in sauce and garlic cheesy bread with salad.  Sophia and Jill join us with the most delicious Bruschetta made by Sophia, an incredible cook.  Donald, Jill’s beau, joined us a little later and after mentioning that he already ate and wasn’t really hungry, filled his plate and proceeded to eat… again. Mangia!  Love when that happens!

Wine, drinks, food, stories and laughs went around the table.  I make a toast to Steve Jobs and to friends.  I’m a lucky girl to be part of all this.  I feel like I belong.  I will never take it for granted. 

Dessert is presented by Amy.  She can turn a simple cupcake into a work of art.  She made gourmet cupcakes decorated with the most delicious rum frosting.  The woman is amazing.  She gets lots of practice as her husband, George, is a food connoisseur; and oh can that man eat!  He’s every food pusher’s dream.  I always enjoy cooking for him.

As we clean up the kitchen (for the second time) George proceeds to entertain the crowd with magic tricks.  He’s really good!  We’re all amazed at the many talents of George!  It’s getting late and people start to leave.  George, Amy, Marco and I relax in the living room for a while going over the highlights of the night’s events.  George, Amy and Sophie retire to the guest suite.  I go to bed with the breakfast menu  on my mind.  After all, I have guests to serve.  I loved having my friends stay over. I was happy they were comfortable enough to stay the weekend and look forward to many more weekend visits.

Everyone leaves after a breakfast of thick, cinnamon french toast, eggs, sausage, coffee and juice.  Picking up the aftermath, changing sheets, towels, mopping floors and cleaning bathrooms, I look around and realize this lake house really comes alive when filled with good friends, good food and good times.  Driving home, the reality of another week ahead sets in.  I really don’t have anything to complain about.  I need to keep reminding myself of that!