We used our island…

We used our island properly for the first time yesterday, for an impromptu dinner party, and it marked up beautifully. We'll have a patina in no time. :-) A grad school classmate, Sarah, is staying with us while she's househunting; she's gotten a job at DePaul (yay!), and is moving to the city with her husband and her three-year-old daughter. Kavi had a great time playing with Jane, so I'm extra-excited they'll be living here. More friends, hooray!

We ended up inviting Daniel and Anne over with their kids too, and did a very simple but yummy meal of roast chicken over potatoes / carrots / onions (just seasoned with salt, pepper, and olive oil), wrinkled green beans (sauteed with olive oil, lots of garlic, and salt), a fresh mozzarella / cherry tomato / spring greens salad, a big bowl of rotini pasta with butter (for finicky kids), and strawberry shortcake for dessert. We spatchcocked the chicken (fancy term for butterflying it, basically), which was great, because it meant the chicken cooked faster, at the same rate as the vegetables. Making it super-simple -- just spread chicken on veggies, toss in oven at 425 for an hour. I haven't done that before, but love it. I'm not sure I've ever cooked a big meal with so few seasonings, but it was quite delicious. And because the seasonings are so simple, we can do anything we want with the leftover chicken. The only downside to the meal is that it's kind of a pain cleaning out that roasting pan. Anyone know a good trick for making it easier?

It makes me really happy, being able to entertain casually like this again. We've been so limited on space and time for so long. I used to host monthly potlucks and have other events during the month. I'm not sure we're quite ready for that pace again (for one thing, while the kids are this small, it's still a little exhausting running after them while also trying to cook and host), but it's getting better, yay. And our house is big enough now that if Kevin doesn't want to socialize, he can escape to upstairs. :-)

Today, my kids are in school, and Sarah's family is checking out preschools in the area. I have some work on campus, and then I come home to finalize a paint scheme for the house, and go over the lighting / plumbing punch list with Pam. George is going to be tiling our mudroom and stairs all week; we're doing slate in a diamond with small squares pattern. Piotr is working on making my pantry shelves, and I CANNOT tell you how happy I will be to actually be able to put pantry stuff away properly, rather than stumbling over boxes and paper bags of it every time I try to cook. Cannot wait. Tomorrow will be an unpacking / cleaning / organizing day with the kids home, and Wednesday, I have lunch with friends in the city, and then Ben arrives! Sarah's family flies out Wednesday night, so it's a full house every day this week. Thursday, Ben and I leave for WisCon, picking up Alex at O'Hare on the way.

I'd actually like to squeeze an IKEA trip in there somewhere, but I'm not sure when that can happen. (IKEA is 45 min. away.) Hmm...maybe tomorrow afternoon, after the kids go down for their naps. We need stainless shelves for the kitchen, cheap rugs for the playroom (and possibly for the family room too), and more curtains.

And that's my week!

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