(I realize this title could taken a couple ways. It’s not that we’re easy girls, it’s about how easy my last girl’s weekend was to plan and execute.) I recently had my 3rd Girl’s Weekend at my condo in the Sanctuary in Key Largo with my sisters Kelley and Elise and our childhood friend Chrissy Wells.
I would say it’s our Third Annual, but the first was 2019 and we didn’t meet in 2020, due to Covid. In 2021 we launched our toilet seat in the Toilet Bowl in the Bay with the words “Girl’s Weekend 2021, because 2020’s Been a Real S**t Show”, complete with a poop emoji. Last year, we couldn’t swing Girl’s Weekend since Chrissy had just started a new job as a Pickleball Pro in Naples and couldn’t take the time off.
But we were able to do a Girl’s Weekend this year- 2023- at my condo in Key Largo. In years past, I knocked myself out a bit with prepping, cleaning and cooking, so this year I was determined to plan a Girl’s Weekend as low-stress as possible. It’s my Girl’s Weekend too, after all! It came on the heels of my Book Club Meeting, so I already had some delicious Chipotle Rosemary Nuts, Summer Sangria and Key Lime Shortbread to bring to the weekend.
Girl’s Weekend started Friday around Happy Hour.
I’d gone down the day before to get things ready. I shopped, changed sheets, set fresh towels out, put little soaps and shampoos in the Guest Bathroom and set out a coconut patty on each bed. Flowers from my Book Club Meeting were brought down and put in vases to spruce up the dining and living rooms, with white twinkly lights and shells adding to the ambiance. Pool toys and floats were unearthed, ready for play! I set the table with raffia placemats , tropical napkins and flower napkin rings. Pandora was playing Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, of course.
Since I’ve been on the hunt for the Best Conch Chowder in the Keys, I picked up pints of Conch Chowder from three restaurants to have a taste testing and choose our favorite. I picked up some Sourdough Bread you bake at home, at Publix to go along with it. I offered a Welcome Cocktail of Summer Sangria, Rose Prosecco and Sparkling or Still Water and set out an easy Charcuterie Platter.
*A note on cheese. I’d heard a new Trader Joe’s cheese- Fromage Pave Red Chili Pepper-was good so bought it, along with my beloved Toscano in Syrah. I tried a small slice the night before- cold and straight out of the fridge. It tasted like a cold, peppery bandaid. So Friday, I took the cheeses out an hour before serving and it made all the difference. Always let your cheeses come to room temp before serving. It lets the flavors ‘bloom”, especially with this type, a soft-ripened French cheese (like Brie) that’s flavored with jalapeno, cayenne and bell peppers. If you like soft cheeses and you like spicy, this is your cheese.
I served the cheeses with plain water crackers, strawberries, Chipotle Rosemary Nuts, dried apricots and truffle honey. Truffle honey makes anything better, as far as I’m concerned. We sipped, snacked and chatted, since it’s been two years since we were all together. We had our Conch Chowder Taste Testing, which I served in little cups for us all to taste, one by one, with sherry on the side. All the Conch Chowders were Award-Winning, so I was curious to see which one we liked the best.
Between Mrs. Mac’s, The Conch House and Key Largo Fisheries, the overwhelming favorite was Key Largo Fisheries Conch Chowder, but, ironically, it isn’t even made on sight! I served the Conch Chowder with warm Sourdough Bread and butter and a Green Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette.
After dinner, we went down to the chickee Hut to have a drink and watch the sunset. Back at the condo, dessert was a delicious Key Lime Pie Elise had made. We chatted for a while, hit the sack pretty early. I was the first one up the next day, so I set up breakfast.
Coffee before everything (of course!), Orange juice, water with sliced strawberries and cucumber, three kinds of berries, yogurt, Homemade Granola, Blueberry Banana Bread and Eggs, Bacon and Bread for anyone that wanted it with butter and homemade Mango Jam.
Since I love doing yoga, especially in the Keys, I’d requested everyone bring their yoga mats and we did an easy Beginner’s Yoga (Boho Beautiful) in the Living Room. Everyone enjoyed this healthy wake-up to our day and then we got dressed and went Thrifting, another one of my favorite things to do in the Keys (much to my husband’s dismay).
We hit a couple stores I like to visit in the Keys- ReStore and Salvation Army– first. Chrissy, who was totally unsure about the thrifting idea, found a tureen and platter to match her sister’s very hard-to-find china pattern, for twenty bucks. Sweet! We also visited Jolene’s, which I’d never been to before. It’s a consignment store, with new and used things. Thrifting was fun- we all came home with treasures- and we’d worked up an appetite for lunch.
Lunch was the very easy “Make Your Own Sandwich.” I love sandwiches, so got the makings for a variety of options, with Sourdough and Whole Wheat Bread, mustard and mayo. I’d cooked some bacon that morning and had tomatoes and lettuce, in case anyone wanted a BLT. I also got sliced Boars Head Turkey Meat and Swiss cheese, with a slice avocado from my tree, creating a wide range of sandwich possibilities. Cape Cod Potato Chips and Homemade Pickles were the sides, with Iced Tea and Sparkling or Plain water to drink.
The afternoon was left for Free Play– Paddleboarding, Swimming, Reading or Napping (I choose the latter) and then we were off to dinner at the newly remodeled Marker 88. Dinner was good (I opted for sushi) and we were back home and in bed relatively early. This Girl’s Weekend was not a wild one! Maybe we’re too old to do wild.
The next morning, Kelley and Elise went Paddle Boarding, while Chrissy went to do Water Aerobics in the pool and I stayed home and read. For our Farewell Meal, Kelley had made an Eggplant Parmesan for lunch. I’d done a whole Spaghetti Dinner the first year of our Girl’s Weekend and it almost wiped me out, so thought I’d be easy on myself and pre-make the Eggplant Parm. Kelley volunteered to make it (our Aunt Josie’s recipe) making it even easier on me! Elise made a salad with avocado, tomatoes and red onion and I made garlic bread with the leftover sourdough bread. As my mother always says: “Many hands make light work.”
Doggy Bags (for husbands and boyfriends) were packed up, hugs were had and we all said goodbye for another year. Or two. We’ll see. I do know this was the easiest Girl’s Weekend I’ve ever had. Here are my tips to stress-free entertaining.
*Girl’s Weekend Tips*
- Send out an invite or Evite with the Time, Place and Activities planned. This lets your guests know what to expect, what to bring and gets them excited about the weekend.
- If possible, arrive at the location one day early to shop, clean, prepare and decompress. Doing it all in one day is exhausting.
- Pre-cook as much as possible, so you’re not spending time in the kitchen. I made the Chipotle Rosemary Nuts, Blueberry Banana Bread and Granola ahead.
- Don’t forget the special touches. Folded towels next to fresh soap, fresh flowers, scented candles and a coconut patty on the bed all make your guests feel pampered.
- Eat out at least once or twice during Girl’s Weekend. You don’t want to spend the weekend in the kitchen!
- Let people help. If someone offers to bring something you need, say yes. Elise supplied dessert Friday night, Kelley made the entree for Sunday. This made it easier on me and let my guests feel engaged and appreciated.
- Do activities you enjoy. While none of my guests had done Yoga recently, they all enjoyed it and Thrifting was a hit as well. The weekend is about catching up with old friends, but also about introducing your latest hobbies, activities and passions to friends.
- Make it easy on yourself. For breakfast, I set out a variety of items and Make Your Own Sandwich was a hands-on, easy-peasy lunch. Since I wasn’t sure of what people could eat (last time we gathered Chrissy ate no meat) I wanted to have options available.
- Go with the flow. One never knows what the weekend will bring. While you want to have a schedule, also be open to the chance to go off on a tangent and explore.
- Don’t forget to-go containers for your guests to take leftovers. They will appreciate it and their S.O. will be more inclined to let them attend the next Girl’s Weekend!
I just realized maybe I should be less worried about anyone mistaking us for “easy girls” than the fact that I’m calling us “girls” at all, since most of us are past 60 (except Elise). But my Grandmother and Aunts called each other girls till the day they died, so I’m going with that philosophy. Girls forever! Born to be mild.
Up Next: Nutty Blueberry Granola