I Am Thankful for Friends Who Can Cook

Friends Thanksgiving probably wouldn’t have lasted past its first attempt in 2009 if our friends weren’t such good cooks. But it did because they are, and Sunday we hosted the fifth annual Friends Thanksgiving potluck at our house (which has been our motivation to get unpacked and settled in the last month).

A vat of mashed potatoes. Creamy pumpkin mac and cheese. Corn casserole, sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, oh my. And a festive cider-bourbon cocktail to wash down pecan, pumpkin and derby pies. If any of you want to start inviting me over for Sunday dinner on the regular, that’d be alright by me.

This motley crew of 20 fit squeezed at one family-style dining table set up in our modest living room.

IMG_3481

And it was awesome.

IMG_3485 - Version 2

Despite their reluctance and their snarls and their sarcastic comments as I say squeeze in tighter…almoooost readdyyy, every time I get to pull out the tripod and set the self timer it means I’m with some of my favorite people — having a good time, celebrating something, adventuring, or just enjoying a huge meal on a frigid Sunday evening in November.

And really, who wouldn’t be thankful enough for that to want to grab it in a picture?

We’re Hurtling into Spring

I have no idea where the time is going, but it’s going fast. Turns out it’s officially April now which I almost said is “our busy month,” but they’re pretty much all busy these days — packed with travels, parties, weddings, anniversaries, baseball games and the like. And even though I wore snow boots to work just last week, it finally feels like springtime decided to make its fashionably late entrance to the party and there’s no turning back now.

Things are in bloom.

My allergies won’t quit.

We’ve felt 50- and 60-degree weather.

Hugh finished our taxes this weekend [we high-fived for filing jointly].

The sun is finally showing up on occasion.

There are tourists ev-er-y-where.

Oh and baseball season has officially started, which means Hugh did two fantasy drafts this weekend, has been itching to go to the cages, and already has a game of his own coming up.

Easter with my family was a good kick-off to the season. Mom colored Easter eggs, which my dad and brother quickly turned into egg salad.

IMG_0372

We ate a huge, delicious meal featuring a pecan-and-praline-glazed Smithfield ham, but all I captured was this delicious chocolate cupcake with chocolate ganache that I had for dessert.

IMG_0373

And I got a new koozie in my Easter basket, just in time for baseball season.

IMG_0369This month I will host a bridal shower and run a 10-mile race, Hugh will work and play baseball, we’ll celebrate our first wedding anniversary, Hugh’s sister will visit for a few days, and we’ll head up to Pennsylvania to see our best buds get married.

Hold on to your pants, kids. Looks like April’s fixin’ to be a bit of a whirlwind.

I Was Off the Grid

Sort of.

Last week I was in Nags Head, NC with friends for our fourth annual Friends Beach Trip.

These guys came:

And so did these guys:

And these guys came to teach everyone how to expertly boogie board:

I was there, too!

We started July 4th with a salute to the Star Spangled Banner at 10 a.m. and continued it with American beer:

In between days with too-cold water and jelly fish-infested water, we played in the ocean:

And Benjamin enjoyed his half-day before having to head home to go back to work. Adulthood sucks.

Jessie was not a fan of Benjamin’s early departure:

But we managed to get a group photo before he left (unfortunately we were missing D for this one):

After showering up from the beach, our America celebration continued with matching (blurry) girls:

And unruly boys:

And slightly less unruly (blurry) boys:

Despite many, many attempts, Jessie and I got a blurry picture:

We feasted like champions the next morning on gourmet breakfasts of mac-and-cheese-with-cut-up-hot-dogs, pasta salad and eggs.

On the last night before all the friends left, we had an accidental/mandatory uniform night:

And on Wednesday we had a fancy group lunch at Sonic before everyone left Hugh and me to fend for ourselves the rest of the week.

It was quite the pig-out session and it was Jessie’s very first Sonic experience:

I think she liked it.

Then we said goodbye, everyone left, and Hugh and I went back to the big, empty beach house and settled into our friendless depression.

Just kidding, it wasn’t that bad.

But I will save that update for tomorrow.

Memorial Day Weekend Down by the Bay

I feel so very blessed to have a family outpost in the Northern Neck of Virginia on the Chesapeake Bay to call a weekend home every now and then. The summers I’ve spent there with family and friends for the past four or five years have been rich with joy and an occasional sunburn. So it was nothing short of fitting to kick off the summer at the Rivah.

I only had my camera out for one day, but with Jessie’s help, we documented Sunday pretty well.

We tend to make a waterfront camp by the dock in front of the house.

Some awesome people, keeping cool with a beverage. Hugh got that hat for $5 from Eastern Market a few summers ago… I just use sunscreen.

We had two unplanned but totally welcome visitors show up Saturday evening. We had to cram a whole weekend’s worth of fun into Sunday for Jessie and Troy, so we took a spin on the jet skis, did some swimming and jumping off the dock, and took them for a thrill ride on the tube.

Jessie was grinning this big her whole time on the tube, because I’m that good of a driver.

It looks like Mom took some pictures, too. I’m going to need to see those pictures, Mom!

The adults hung out on the boat, where the radio was turned up.

Harry was a trooper, hanging out with us old folk while Dylan was MIA for a while. Hey Harry!

Troy did some serious kayaking — you’re making wake in a no-wake zone, Troy!

I didn’t get Saturday night’s seafood fest on camera, but it was epic. Mom and Dad went to a local shop and picked up tuna steaks, shrimp, scallops, mahi mahi and oysters and I made pasta salad and cole slaw. De-lish.

I also don’t have action shots of the skiing that happened Saturday — Clayton is always the most fun to watch, especially when he asks to be towed back sans skis. I got up on my first try and Dylan took me for  a quick ride out of the cove, across the channel and back again. Since my back was already sore after that, I quit while I was ahead and let Hugh take a turn (he also did great).

Foot note: my back was still sore from skiing when Hugh talked me into the 10K. Something must be off kilter in my brain.

I probably need more vacation.