Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Al Fresco is alive and well, and living in Long Island City

It's summertime and the livin' could be easier, but in my quest to keep my life balanced...I've hosted a few small dinners for friends. I used to have parties for 60 or 30, or 20 and I ran around like a 'foo. Lately I've been cooking with as much gusto, but for 2 to 6 guests and it's been far more enjoyable to actually be at my own party!

In a very impetuous move a few summers ago, I instantly fell for a mango wood table and 6 chairs. The table edges and chair backs are carved, and there are great wrought iron accents.

  • Do I live in a temperate zone? No.
  • Can I have the table uncovered overnight? No.
  • Can I leave it outside year round? No.
I HAD to have it, and I bought it on the spot. It makes me feel like I live in Napa.

REALITY CHECK: I live in Queens, New York. The weather is disagreeable (for mango wood) 6 months of the year.

I applied 3 layers of matte polyeurothane, and bought a cover. After a big rainstorm I thanked myself for having polyeurothaned, because the seams in the cover were not waterproof. Gack! What to do? I squeezed out a few yards of silicone seam sealer, which is for camping. It dries overnight and works great. I store the table and chairs over the winter. I re-purpose the cover to protect the "all-weather wicker" from the sleety rain, snow and cold. You might think I'm batty to go thru all this trouble, but I really like the way the table looks, and it's been a very comfy gathering place for couple friends, gal pals and my "bookless book club," which is comprised of former city dwellers who gather once a year to escape the suburbs.

It's so easy and "back to the earth-y" to snip herbs and greens from my garden to create a quick, fragrant and texturally interesting centerpiece. After dinner, I can toss it into the compost bin.

I have a few sets of plates and flatware, I collect silver napkin rings, Italian and French table linens, and have various lanterns, vases for flowers and vessels for candles. We dine under the weeping cherry tree, and can hear crickets as well as the neighbors' wind chimes. I was only "shoooshed" once, by a tired neighbor, when the guffawing had not subsided by 11pm...and it was a weeknight. It was a dating story, if I remember correctly. Oops!

I like the scale of the lifestyle I've carved out, in the shadow of the big city.

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