Mixed Bean Salad and The Dinner Party

On Friday night we had a dinner party.  Carl had invited clients over for dinner.  People I had never met.  Carl’s good like that, he’s sadistic.

I wasn’t stressed though because I knew it would all go well because the teenagers wouldn’t be there – out as usual and I would have the whole day to get everything organised.

But Friday turned out to be a bit hectic.  Not only because I squeezed in an appointment with the beautician and ran down to Arabella’s school (twice) and tried hard to renew my driver’s licence, and had the menu to prepare and food shopping to do but because I also had the house to clean.  Now there’s a project!

Taking on some time-saving schemes I decided to lock and bolt the doors of the teenager’s bedrooms as this would stop the humiliation I would feel if the guests accidentally wandered into one of these rooms of national disgrace.

Mixed Bean Salad

By late afternoon I had everything fairly organised and Carl came home early and said he would take Alfie to his usual Friday evening outing, Sea Scouts.  There was no way I could take him not only because I was busy but because I still didn’t have a licence.  As Carl was leaving  I said, ‘Could you hurry back?’ and he said he would.  And what I meant was, ‘Could you hurry back after you drop him at Scouts?’ but Carl, for no good reason, decided to stay at Sea Scouts and arrived home two and a half minutes before our guests were due to arrive.  I said, ‘Where have you been?’  And Carl looked all confused and said, ‘It only finished a few minutes ago.  I hurried back.’

‘I wanted you to drop him off and hurry home.  I’ve got so much to do and I’ve had no help’.

‘Oh, well what can I do?’

‘Could you put on some music?’  Because Carl does all the things around the house that are to do with cords, leads and wires.

And then for no good reason Rosie vomited.  And not very quietly either.  And so I had to get down on my hands and knees and clean dog vomit off the polished timber floors.  And having cleaned that up I then noticed little paw prints of blood on my white kitchen tiles.  The tiles I had bleached and scrubbed a few hours earlier.  Where was the blood coming from?  I checked the vomiter and it wasn’t her.  I turned Ruby on her back and looked at her paws and sure enough, she’d ripped out a toenail.  Carl said, ‘How did she do that?’

I said, ‘That’s not helpful Carl.  Do you want me to ask her?’  Because I knew the doorbell would ring any minute and I hadn’t had time to put on any make-up because of Carl’s lengthy absence, the vomit and the missing toenail.  I hurried into the bathroom that I had cleaned just before I scrubbed the kitchen floor to try and make some improvements to my appearance but reeled back in horror as I entered the room because the teenagers had been in there before going out and had left it in a state similar to their bedrooms.  There was water all over the floor, the towels were askew, the vanity was filthy and there was something splattered on the mirror.  I hoped it wasn’t toxic.  I gave the bathroom a quick repair and was about to look for a lipstick when the doorbell rang.  That was when, with a very strained face, I managed one of those very forced happy and relaxed looks.

So in they walked and I said, ‘Lovely to meet you, come on through, the kid’s bedrooms are closed because there’s nothing in there you’d like to see and there’s the bathroom and it looked really good an hour ago and here’s the kitchen but don’t step on the floor because that’s the dog’s blood you can see and over there, that big pile of washing belongs to Archie and a few Sunday’s ago I asked him to sort it out and he’s told me he’s going to and I’m sure that will happen one day.  And what would you like to drink?’

And we had the best night.

It turns out they also have a daughter doing the HSC and she also goes to a princess school and is also studying Drama and this week she’d also performed in front of the Board of Studies and she has her formal coming up and her mother has gone the whole nine yards trying to find her a dress and she said her daughter is high maintenance.  We had so much in common!  It was like being in the company of someone leading a parallel life.

We had a fabulous time where we couldn’t stop talking and laughing and swapping teenage horror stories.  Very therapeutic.

And nobody worried about the vomit, the state of the bathroom, the blood on the floor or Archie’s enormous pile of laundry.

And speaking of teenagers, I made them a salad they can take to uni/school.

Perfect for lunch boxes

Mixed Bean Salad

Serves:  6

Degree of Difficulty:  1/5

Cost:  Minimal

  • half a mignonette lettuce, leaves roughly torn
  • 2 x 300g cans mixed beans
  • 4 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 gherkins, finely chopped
  • a handful of mint, finely chopped
  • a handful of basil, finely chopped


  • 2/3 cup EVOO
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbspn grain mustard
  • salt and pepper

Place the lettuce leaves on a large platter.  Drain and rinse the beans and place in a large bowl.  Add shallots, tomatoes, gherkins and herbs and mix to combine.  Spread over lettuce.

Pour EVOO into a large glass jar.  Add vinegar, garlic, mustard and seasonings.  Place lid on jar and shake until well combined.  Pour over salad.  (Dressing makes more than is required for this salad so use only what you need and keep the rest in the fridge).

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  1. Miss Piggy says:

    We hardly EVER EVER EVER have people over as the stress would send me to the looney bin – no joke! My husband knows better than to ever invite anyone over…esp if I have to cook! Eeek!

  2. MonasticismCaitiff32 says:
  3. That’s an excellent-looking salad!

  4. Ohh man – can’t believe Rosie vomited and tracked blood in the kitchen… But at least it still sounded like you had a good night anyway!! That bean salad looks delicious and very healthy 🙂

  5. Glamorous Glutton says:

    Oh Nooo! I always find that the minute the doorbell rings Mr Glam disappears to the bathroom. I’m then introducing myself to unknown guests of his and doing the initial drinks thing. I can only imagine what the bathroom was like. So glad you had a good time. GG

  6. What a night, Murphy’s law! But I bet the dinner went off perfectly and it was delicious. Entertaining on a weeknight is never easy. I always lower my expectations at these types of events and find I enjoy them significantly more than I thought I would. At least they didn’t arrive early!

  7. Oh you poor thing! At least you didn’t have the guest from hell that I had a few weeks back! She was an older, very nosy lady. At dinner she needed a bowl ( there was no need for bowls at dinner) so instead asking me, the hostess, she opens EVERY single cabinet and drawer in my kitchen to find one. Then, she needed the loo, so instead of using the nice, clean guest loo, she goes upstairs to the toilet paper strewn, knickers and bras draped one of the drama queens of the household. Ugh. I am so glad you had good time with your guests.

  8. Sounds like you had a good time in spite of the earlier drama. Nice guests always help relieve the stress. 🙂


  9. Our husbands must be related as mine goes missing every time we are having guests over and shows up miraculously just when they arrive. It’s my pet peeve.

  10. Reem | Simply Reem says:

    Mine always goes missing too when the guest are about to come…. And always come back just before they are at the door..
    This is excellent looking salad…

  11. Victoria at Flavors of the Sun says:

    These are usually the best of times, I’ve found–the ones where everything seems to go wrong. And ultimately, we, the hostesses (certainly not the hosts!) are the ones bothered by the less than perfect. Great looking salad too–easy and yet substantial. I love bean salads in general and this one looks especially nice.

  12. kitchenriffs says:

    Good story. I enjoy giving dinner parties, but I have to admit it’s a bit stressful if it’s for people I don’t know. And you had all this chaos to put up with too! But you handled it beautifully. And even though I’m the hubby, I’m also the cook – so I can’t go missing! 😉 Thanks for this.

  13. Jed Gray (sportsglutton) says:

    Oh Charlie…I do enjoy your reads, but sometimes they do make me feel less comfortable about having teenage kids. 😉

    Hope you had a great weekend!!

  14. All credit to Carl for inviting people he knew you’d like! Sounds like wonderful evening, Charlie! Lovely salad too.. xx

  15. Wow my friend seems like you had quite a dinner party 😀
    I am so glad the event went well even if the pre preparation was a little… Problematic 😉
    You always hold it all together 🙂
    And lovely salad!

    Choc Chip Uru

  16. So glad to read you hosted a couple with whom you could really identify. Sounds like Lady Luck finally decided to give you a break that day. I hope Ruby’s doing all right.

  17. We do tend to fuss to much over things that won’t even be noticed. If the food and company is amazing, who cares about the rest? Sounds like a wonderful night – it is so therapeutic to find like souls.

  18. InTolerant Chef says:

    It’s so nice to know that someone else feels your pain Charlie 🙂 This couple probably left their place in the same state that yours had been, and trying to wrangle the kids for dinner and the evening too. I bet they were grateful for a night out without drama, and a sympathetic ear! Great job sweetie 🙂

  19. Such a wonderfully written story! I was cringing, laughing and smiling the hole way through. I remember reading on Friday how that went down and was wo during how you’d go with dinner! Glad it all turned out well.

  20. Jackie Brown says:

    Glad it all turned out well 🙂

  21. I think Carl and John went to the same school. He will invite people over and then thinks that’s the hard part. “Oh, what needs doing? Place looks okay to me,” and I want to hit him with a pineapple. I love nibbling on a bean salad. I’ll make one for lunch and then I can’t stay away from it and keep poking my fork into the fridge all day. This looks really good.

    So glad you had some laughs with someone so much like you. Hope the dog’s okay.

  22. yummychunklet says:

    Glad to hear that everything went well!

  23. Very funny story – I would have been in tears!

  24. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says:

    You know after reading that, I’m convinced that everyone has similar states of chaos before guests come over! I’m glad everything went well in the end-what did you cook? 🙂

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Hi Lorraine, I cooked fresh dates stuffed in blue cheese and wrapped in proscuitto, then confit duck with potato gratin and braised cabbage, then a blood orange and chocolate salad. The salad was amazing. First time I’d made it and the flavours were wonderful – Jamie Oliver recipe xx

  25. Claire @ Claire K Creations says:

    I think it might just be all men! All’s well that ends well though. Sounds like you had a wonderful night!

  26. Tina @ bitemeshowme says:

    Of course there’s a string of unexpected events that has to happen before you have guests over. Very relieved that there was a mutual understanding between you and the guests. As parents, you’d want everything to be perfect but i think we all know that it may not be.

  27. Now that’s some pre-dinner party drama! I’ve had my share with last minute disasters and certainly can share your decision on locking the teenagers bedrooms. I did the same and really never felt the need to explain. Glad to hear your guests turned out to be so fun! The bean salad looks healthy and delicious. Will you be sharing the rest of your dinner party menu?

  28. Minnesota Prairie Roots says:

    Hilarious, detailed story. Sorry. Just have to laugh at all the mishaps. But all turned out well and that’s what counts.

  29. GourmetGetaway says:

    I love bean salads, and it is such a quick and easy stand by when time is short. Mr GG would do exacly what your husband did :0 LOL men 🙂

  30. Sounds like a great dinner party 🙂 And i love it when guests are easy going hehe and not stressed out! PHEW! I hope Rosie’s feeling better 🙂
    I love all your salad recipes hehe ~ I should eat more beans heard that it’s really good for you hehe

  31. Another great party that I was not invited to 😉

  32. Vanessa Carnegie says:

    I have a theory that your own house being slightly dishevelled makes people feel more comfortable. And if that fails then at least it makes them feel superior, and therefore bound to have a good evening anyway!

  33. I am extremely relieved that your guests were so like-minded and like experienced! I was waiting with a certain amount of horror out of concern that they would be Very Uptight and not at all understanding after your challenging drama week, so the result was wonderful in comparison 🙂

  34. Juliet Batten says:

    What a relief to have so much in common with your guests! I’m sure you all had a great time.

  35. niasunset says:

    wonderful post and seems that it was a great party. Thank you dear Charlie, as always your post was amazing. Have a nice week, love, nia

  36. Judy@Savoring Today says:

    Not sure why, but it seems that chaos is always invited to our dinner parties and sure to show up early! Glad to evening turned out to be a success and even enjoyable–count your blessings there. Lovely bean salad, really like the simple dressing. 🙂

  37. I loved your story, Charlie! You really had me laughing with the whole list of horrors! We entertain quite often and I just never seem to have enough time. I have recollections of my own mother’s weeks of preparation before a night of entertaining and somehow that still comes to mind as I rush about and never feel that I’m really ready. And yet you are so right…people don’t care about whether or not there’s a pile of laundry in the corner. They want good conversation. I’m so glad you had the experience of sharing teenage drama stories! Therapy indeed! And I love the bean salad recipe. I really do! The gherkins was a surprise and not an ingredient I’d have chosen on my own. I think that sounds fabulous. It’s a new week…go get that driver’s license! 🙂

  38. This is one of the best things I have EVER read, and more so because it’s so close to home 😀 And I thought I was the ONLY one who went through it…..though I must say my hubs is totally awesome when it comes to lending a hand for cleaning before guests arrive. In fact he even makes room to come back from office earlier if needed, so can’t really complain. But rest of the things are so familiar that it could be a leaf out of my own book, hahahaha! But I love entertaining, and I bet you do too.
    PS: My dad did that to my Mom, ALL the time. She still cribs about it, hahaha!

  39. Jennifer Cullen says:

    Just when I thought everything would go smoothly!! I want to come stay with you for a few days and take it all in. And laugh with you about life. Because the only other option, other than laughing, is crying. And I don’t like my mascara to run.

  40. SarahKate (Mi Casa-Su Casa) says:

    I’m really impressed with how you handled all that! I think that about the time the doorbell rang I’d have collapsed! You’re a superstar.

  41. You are the hostest with the mostest! I just adore those nights, the ones that take you completely by surprise and you have a brilliant time. You are a legend to pull it of with a smily face though xx

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