domesticity,  party party,  spilling my guts

Chinese Night


We have dinner parties now and then because you know, we’re grown-ups and stuff and I can actually cook now so it’s fun to have friends over and show off.

I remember when I used to have parties like this I would always make sure my mom was coming and she would cook. I’d do everything else up to the nines because of my party-planning sickness but leave all the cooking to my mom who would be sweaty and exhausted and taken advantage of.

Well, guess what? I don’t have to do that anymore! I actually focus more on cooking and less on having the right decorations and the right playlist of theme-related music, the right costumes etc etc…which is huge because I used to waste a lot of unnecessary time and energy on the minutia of a dinner party and drive everyone crazy.

I still drive everyone crazy but they have a lot more patience when they are rewarded with tasty food.

It all started with my tablescape job. I wanted to create a tablescape around this old Japanese rice urn I bought at a thrift store ages ago. I love this dish. It is perfect for rice or taking food to a potluck. It’s heavy and sturdy and it comes with a lid! And it looks cool which is the most important thing if you are me. Of course I thought it was a Chinese urn when I started out but quickly figured out it  was Japanese when I googled it and it showed up here. But I made Chinese food and not Japanese food because I am no good with raw fish. Sushi is way out of my league.

As usual, I was in too much of a hurry actually cooking to take pictures along the way. I’m frustrated with myself too because making these pot stickers is super photogenic (as you’ve probably seen in my Instagram feed) but add guests and taking pictures sort becomes secondary.


Payam humored (the crazy) me and drove me to a Chinese market so I could pick up a free newspaper as my table cloth. I know it’s kind of weird and maybe dirty seeming but I thought it was cool in a gritty, urban way. It brought the theme to the table and you can’t beat the price. Of course in the beginning I had visions of red raw silk but the newspaper turned out to be way more economical and less stain-attracting.


Then when we were out picking up drinks at Bev Mo I found these buddha beers. They had to jump in our cart if not for drinking then for the possibility of becoming the cutest vases ever!!! They were perfect and even actually tasted decent, said the beer-drinking guests who are not me.  It was fun. Everything came together and we had a great time.

And that’s pretty much it if I leave out the part where I was super emotional the day before and almost cancelled the whole event before it even happened. Heh.

I’ve figured out that this is my typical mode of operation. I like to plan things, big things! But then if I perceive even the slightest hint of failure I blow everything out of proportion and cancel the whole shebang in a heaping pile of ugly crying. It’s terrible. I kept this trait from Payam for the longest time but it has come out with a vengeance and now he knows the real me.


BUT! I am learning this about myself and Payam has been so encouraging. This time instead of cancelling in a huff like usual I decided to just go through the motions and make it happen. I took my failures head on. I was prepared for people to come to my event and be polite but secretly wish they weren’t there and leave as soon as it was acceptable. I was prepared for my food to be cold and untouched. I was even prepared for my newspaper tablecloth to be made fun of. I was prepared to vow to never do another party again unless people got down on their hands and knees and begged me to. That was my attitude.

You know what? I’ve written this post before. I’ve been in this learning curve so many times!! If I learn anything in my lifetime it is this: If you put out the effort, you will be rewarded. This is my new mantra. Every time I put out the effort as a hostess I always am so glad I did.

Nothing else but effort matters. It doesn’t matter if food burns or you forget to make a salad or a dessert. It doesn’t matter if you forgot to clean the cat box or put out new clean guest towels or your sink had cat prints in it. It doesn’t matter if you have put on a few pounds in the last year and you aren’t the slim, sleek hostess you want to be. It just doesn’t matter! Nothing matters except putting out the effort. That’s what people want. That’s what people appreciate.

Everyone who came to our dinner party had such a great time. I had such a great time! Usually I’m a stress case and I can’t sit down and talk but I did this time! We all talked for hours.  We ate, we laughed, the kids played minecraft….Nobody made excuses to leave early. All the food got eaten (well, if you don’t count the potstickers that got eaten as a midnight snack by someone I won’t name.) and everyone was happy. I was so happy.

I guess that means I’m not vowing to never throw another dinner party again. In fact, I might already be plotting my next one. It might even be an exact repeat of this one except with cucumber vinegar salad AND a dessert this time. Heh!



  • Sarah

    I like the clever idea of the newspaper tablecloth – it isn’t just thematically fitting, it saves guests from guilty consciences when something is spilled too!

  • Evilisa

    Sounds wonderful! Also, you NEEDED the Buddha beer. I know! Because I bought it too. They are super fun vases especially for Chinese New Year parties.

  • Jillian

    I LOVE the fun newspaper tablecloth! Reminds me of the time I went on a study abroad trip and the whole class chipped in to buy gifts for the 3 professor chaperones. I was in charge of buying them and on the way back to the hotel I grabbed some Czech road maps and used them as wrapping paper. Thank god the people at the hotel desk knew what “tape” was!

    I turn out to be a basket case before parties also. I’ve gotten much better in the last year or so, mostly because I’ve stopped caring so much what people think and starting focusing on bringing together people who won’t care that the corners have dog hair tumbleweeds or that we don’t have cloth napkins or tablecloths (yet). You’re right, it’s the effort that counts. So yay for personal growth!

  • a chris

    I’m going to tell my 7yo to read this. Effort brings rewards, even when you feel anxious or uncertain. Maybe not the reward you planned on, and maybe not every minute. But if you keep on keeping on, it pays off overall, through the ups and downs.

    I liked the reminder too. :)

    I just had a birthday party for my 5yo. I forgot lots of stuff, wasn’t on the ball during the party, and had LOTS of help from my mom, but the kids had fun and my kid will remember that there actually was a party.

    It is a huge effort for me to think up things that might be cool at a party. We all struggle one way or another!

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