Life is so strange at the moment, with the countdown to New Zealand ticking away, and our house practically empty, and hubby working so many hours. I’m finally able to sleep at nights with the help of my CEO’s extra sleeping bags, and some herbal sleeping pills, which means at least I’m not a raving lunatic during daylight hours anymore – this is a huge relief to my husband, who is the person responsible from talking me down from the rooftop when I enter into crazyville! – and I’m almost used to sitting on a fold out camping chair in the middle of my bare loungeroom like some crazy homeless squatter, and I hardly notice anymore that all my work clothes are crumpled and unprofessional looking from having everything squished into my little backpack.. it’s really quite amazing what you can get used to.

The one thing I’m not used to yet is the fact that I’m spending so much time without my husband. For the past few years we have spent almost every evening together, he cooks dinner for us, which we eat together at the table with some interesting conversation and we go to bed at the same time, read a little, talk a little, fool around a little then sleep. But at the moment he’s working nights and at first it was all “Woohoo! Time alone!” and I would watch movies I’ve already seen (hubby hates that) and eat cupcake mix right from the bowl and take extra long showers and spend too long on the phone with the girls. But the novelty seems to have worn off and now I’m all “Hohum empty house” and I wander around sighing like a malcontent and looking longingly at the empty fold out camping chair next to me as I watch “The Breakfast Club” for the seven hundredth time.

By the time he gets home from work I’m all cozy and asleep so even though I wake up and hug him hello and ask him how his night went, I’m usually asleep before he’s finished telling me about the woes of his day and since our beautiful king sized pillow top bed is in a container half way to New Zealand and we are sleeping on inflatable mattresses we don’t even really have the luxury of spooning the night away to recharge the husband deficit. He wakes up in the morning to drive me to work so we do at least have 10 minutes together in the morning but with so much going to plan before our final flight those minutes are more like business meetings than romantic rendezvous. I remind him that he only has 3 more weeks to organise the wedding name change on his passport before our international flight, and he tells me the times that the real estate agent needs access to the house to show prospective tenants through our walk in wardrobe. I give him a shopping list and remind him of our ever dwindling bank balance and he gives me a bag with his shoes inside, the ones that need the sole fixed before we leave town. Then we kiss goodbye and I climb the stairs to my office to start another – poorly motivated – work day.

I’m lucky enough this week that we’ve managed to have one day off together, a whole 24 hours of bliss.. this Sunday. Until then though, I’ll be the one walking through the empty house all glazed eyed and zombie-ish with a reheated frozen pie in one hand dreaming about the days of gourmet meals and chatter.

photo credit

Challenge 6: Dinner for 8  Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to plan a fabulous dinner party. You’ve been given a healthy budget, so don’t scrimp! Guest list – 8 people, dead or alive, real or ficticious. The menu – will this be your very own masterchef moment, or is outsourcing more your style? Is there a theme? What will be the entertainment for the evening? What will you wear? What will you talk about? Don’t forget the wine! Have fun planning, be as creative as you like. If you’re creative, maybe even design the invitation. Make this an event not to be missed! Link back here with the URL of your blog AND the entry by 7.30pm 1st July – Have fun!

This is my second blog this challenge and I have to say, so far I’ve been pretty happy with the challenge content, by now you will all know of my nomad ways, but if there is one thing I love more than travelling it is eating! So the idea of hosting an imaginary dinner party with the guests of my choice thrilled me, especially when I read that my guests didn’t necessarily need to be real! So, first things first, I took a walk over to my bookshelf and plonked down on my beanbag. I stared at my bookshelf for a long time wondering just how I could possibly choose which of my favourite characters to come dinner, in the end I settled on the list below: (NB: Technically I suppose, since it’s ‘dinner for 8’ I should probably be one of the eight but it was hard enough narrowing it down as it was. Hopefully that is acceptable oh powerful judges!)

1. My husband – because he is the chef and without him we’d be eating frozen pizza (well also because I love him lol)
2. Stephen King – partly because I’m such a huge fan but mainly because I would really love to see the way he interacts with the rest of the guests, in particular one of his own characters
3 + 4. Henry & Clare from The Time Travellers Wife by Audrey Niffeneger because theirs was a love story that has always stayed with me and I love the idea of them having the opportunity to spend time together at my party.
5. Roland from the Dark Tower Series – my favourite of all SK books, and also he and SK have already met and it seems fair that SK should know someone at the party since so far there are two other couples.

That’s it for the adults, then we have the kids table (though, for the record I haven’t quite decided if I would like these characters to come as the kids they were in these books or as the adults they are now in my imagination):
6. Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird – what a brave and beautiful girl!
7. Leslie from Bridge to Terabithia – another brave and beautiful girl and I think that she and Scout would have been great friends

Choosing by number 8 was the hardest of them all, I spent a long time agonising over whether to invite Jesse from Bridge to Terabitha so I could reunite him with Leslie just for a night, or to invite Jake from The Dark Tower because I would love to see he and Stephen King interact with one another. In the end I chose Jesse.

8. Jesse from Bridge to Terabithia because his heartbreak was my heartbreak when Leslie died and I want to bring them together for the evening.

Now for the meal. At the moment I have a bit of a yum cha fetish and love serving meals over the space of a whole evening, small plates of dumplings and sushi and noodles, tiny bowls of stir fry or itty bitty pies, all matched up with wines for the adults and smoothies for the kids – a homemade degustation menu. 10 courses in total (with some shameless links to my foodie blog):

Vegetarian Mini Calzone
Spicy Tempeh Nori Rolls
Vegan Pad Thai
Pineapple and Quinoa Stirfry
Ginger Scented Vegetable Pot Stickers
Itty Bitty Shepherd’s Pies
Peking Mushrooms with Mandarin Pancakes

And then onto the desserts:

Carrot Cupcakes
Home made double chocolate icecream
Raspberry Brownies

We’ll end up the meal with some coffee and peppermint tea – and of course a hired minibus to come and take our guests home so that they don’t drink and drive after too much wine.

And in the background, playing softly so that our guests aren’t interrupted and are free to talk, an itunes playlist tailor made for the evening including (but not limited to) the following artists:

Ella Fitzgerald
Mat Kearney
Nouvelle Vague
Oren Lavie
Angus & Julie Stone
Tracy Chapman
Joshua Radin
Joni Mitchell
Edith Piaf
Iron and Wine
Ani Di Franco

Dress code for the evening is pretty straight forward, we are a jeans and bare feet type of crew so whatever they’re comfortable in is fine, that was the rule at our wedding so I figure it will work here too, besides I’m not sure that Roland would have any fancy clothes and for all we know Henry could be ‘visiting’ from another time and may have to end up wearing my husbands bathrobe, it doesn’t really feel fair to make them feel uncomfortable by dressing up.

Wow, I had so much fun writing this that I was almost disappointed to get home this afternoon and realise that it would just be hubby and I eating vegetarian frittata for dinner!