Expedition into a Chance-y Dining Room

Glen, (Jamie), Mark, Marshall, Dave (and Shannon) gathered around the table for dessert.

Glen, (Jamie), Mark, Marshall, Dave (and Shannon) gathered around the table for dessert.

With the New Year, Dave and I rediscovered our dining room!

As architects, we’re constantly renovating our home. That means it’s usually in no shape to show. And as collector/artists, we tend to fill our space with papers, objects, frames, art and construction supplies, and other materials waiting to be incorporated into some design or other. To be more specific, the dining room in our house has served as Dave’s photographic archive for years. It’s been chock full of framed prints, storage shelves, packing materials, and the like.

Uncovering the room was a challenge and a thrill.

When Dave transferred his photographic archives from our dining room to his downtown studio we knew we had to celebrate.

Two 2012 accomplishments aided our celebration: (1) last fall, Dave installed enough new porch flooring for guests to access the front door, and (2) in July, I had our dining room table re-built (to overcome structural damage that resulted from the tripod-leg design combined with old age).

So although we hadn’t hosted a dinner party in around five years, we decided to give it a go.

The cats were thrilled — they love to meet people and entertain!

We planned a fairly simple meal and invited over some friends who’ve hosted us for dinner more times that I can count: Marshall & Glen McClure and Jamie & Mark Lewis. Together (we six people and four cats), made an expedition into the unknown space.  I’m happy to report that we had a blast.  Everything turned out well and we look forward to more expeditions into the room next fall….

Fresh Off the Plane

Dave met me at the gate when I arrived into Norfolk “International” Airport. We grabbed my bags and he whisked me off to a dinner party at the McClure’s.  He had made-from-scratch two beautiful lasagnas that were to be the centerpiece of our meal.

We arrived at Glen and Marshall’s home just in time to view the sunset off their back desk and take a quick peek into their lovely garden. Even mid-December, the flowers are abloom in their back yard. For Marshall this seemed like nothing special; this type of flower always blooms this time of year, she said. Hampton Roads (our region, comprised of seven different cities in close proximity) is awash in pink blooms right now.

But the sight of fresh winter blooms left me in awe….

I notice that the flowers looked a lot fresher than I did (sporting my glamorous just-off-the plane aura)!

As the sun dipped below the tree line, we headed in to the McClures’ cozy living room.  We sat around, petting the animals and chatting for a while.

Then, low and behold, Jamie and Mark Lewis showed up at the front door — with party balloons and Christmas gifts in tow.  Mark is a conservator who works at the Chrysler Museum of Art.  We initially met at an art gallery, where he told me he is job is to “clean dirty pictures with Q-tips and spit.”

What a catchy line pick up line!?!

It’s one that worked.  Mark, his wife Jamie, and I have been fast friends from that moment forward.

I’ve so many fond memories of dinners around the McClures’ dinner table(s).

Dinner time!

Dinner time!

As I mentioned, Dave had assembled two delicious lasagnas — one red and one white.  He made them completely from scratch, noodles and all!  The McClures rounded out the selection with a crisp salad and ice cream.

Everyone chipped in bottles of wine they’d socked aways for special occasions.  Dave brought one from Dolceaqua (a Ligurian town we visited this past summer). Marshall contributed some of the finest from her brother’s Virginia winery. And Jamie, knowing Marshall’s preference for pale wines, shared a delightful bottle of white.

I have to say:  this was the perfect way to spend my first evening back in the States.  Seeing people I love gave my heart such a lift!