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life's a picnic
how to host an indoor picnic 
by Patricia Virella
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While on vacation recently, I promised myself a lovely picnic for my fiancé and me. The setting: a park overlooking a pond. The food: light and kissing-friendly. A guaranteed recipe for romance -- or so I thought. As I started prepping for the ultra romantic feast in the park the day before, I nervously watched the weather, thinking that surely, the drab and obnoxious clouds of the eastern seaboard couldn't follow me to the Midwest. Boy was I wrong. The next morning I woke up and discovered that thunderstorms, torrential rain, plus a sticky, hot humidity that ballooned my hair into an afro were what the weather had in store for me. This was no way to have a picnic, right? Wrong. I took my delicious, home-cooked picnic food, grabbed my fiancé, and enjoyed a lovely picnic spread indoors.

Why does the sun have to go on sabbatical some days and launch into overdrive on others? And let's not even begin to mention Hurricane Isabel! There are times when the weather just refuses to cooperate with your hankering to sit outside and enjoy a glass of wine, a nice sandwich, a little fruit. So how do you prepare a nice picnic or even a clambake without hauling your goods to the beach or park in bad weather? You don't! Forget about the weather hassles, and have an indoor picnic instead.

Creating ambiance for an inside picnic is really quite easy. Because you won't be taking this picnic into the dirty outdoors you can break out the special blankets that you would have ordinarily been afraid to get grass stains on. You don't even have to fight to score that prime piece of park turf, because the most romantic spot for this picnic is right in your house.

You can host a bevy of lovely fetes that generally take place outside and turn them into indoor affairs instead. Just make sure to capture the mood so your guests will still get into the spirit of things. If you were going to host a clambake at the beach, do so on your kitchen table. Just throw down a plastic tablecloth and pour out the goods in the same way you would have done on a picnic table. And make sure to give everyone a bib for the mess. If a simple romantic picnic is your plan, pile on the romance and dine on your living room floor. You can still bring the basket and blanket, but don't forget the candles -- they'll take the place of that touch of moonlight or ray of sunlight you might be missing from dining in the great outdoors.

One rule to remember: leave the TV off and skip the formal china. Stick with paper goods and a good battery-operated boombox -- tuned to your favorite radio station or playing a CD. What's the point of having a picnic-esque event if you don't have the ambiance to match?

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