Family reunion

15 June 2020

There have been so many milestones as the pandemic restrictions start to ease. There was our overnight trip to Sydney to witness a small wedding, having our first guests round for dinner and being able to meet up with friends again. Last Saturday, it was my family's turn to be together for the first time since Christmas 2018. With my brother back from New York, my parents, youngest brother and his wife making the trip from Sydney, the 12 of us were able to gather in Canberra for lunch.

It was Tony and my first time hosting a big family event and I'm so glad we did it! Space-wise, with a little reconfiguring of our apartment it just worked. My brother brought a trestle table, we used every chair we owned (from dining chairs, IKEA stools, outdoor chairs and our sofa), along with every plate, fork, cup and glass. I was super proud that we could do it - especially without buying anything specific for it other than food and napkins (I almost panic-bought paper plates).

I was a little bit nervous about cooking for a crowd, mainly because we have so little bench space. In the end I made a double batch of Julia Turshen's lasagne (with beef) because I'd made it before and it's magically simple and delicious. I cooked the sauce during my lunch break on Friday, mixed and rolled the pasta on Saturday morning, bought pre-grated cheese to make assembly easier and had everything ready to bake by 11.30am.

My family brought drinks, fresh bread and a big salad, which helped so much. I've only just realised that it makes a lot of sense to choose a main and a dessert from the same cookbook. It was the best excuse to try Julia's 'Happy wife, happy life' chocolate cake, with raspberry jam and sour cream chocolate icing. Not wanting to stress, I baked it the weekend before and froze the cake layers, icing it the night before. After making a wedding cake, icing a two-layer cake that doesn't need to be transported anywhere is a breeze!

The house was so full of life that afternoon and I felt extremely proud that we were able to host. I'm happy to report that my tiny bag of toys is still going strong, with Frozen snap being one of the best $5 additions.

It was a busy weekend - we had my brother Zac and his wife Hannah over for dinner on Thursday night, invited a friend round for coffee on Sunday and then we went out to dinner with my parents on the last night of their stay. Before lockdown, I preferred to do one social thing each weekend - two max. But I've noticed that I have a lot more energy and enthusiasm for any kind of hang out since I've been working at home. I think it's because I'm not tiring myself out commuting to work, packing my lunch, trying to get up early for yoga. It's made so much more brain space for the best stuff.

After everyone went home, we tidied up and ended up eating leftovers by candlelight and Ferrero Rochers on the couch - a gift from my sister. We just happened to have two slices of chocolate cake left over 😉 and I'm so looking forward to tucking into them tonight. This year has had so many emotional highs and lows, but this was one of the really good days.

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