I don’t know if you remember, but I kind of got married a few months ago. And everything about that day was perfect. I couldn’t have picked a better, more appropriate way for us to tie the knot. Married life has been awesome because frankly, it’s not much different from our non-married life. It’s just now we get to call each other “Wifey” and “Hubby” and wear extra, sparkly (in my case) jewelry.
Because we didn’t have a real wedding or a chance to celebrate with all of our friends and family (and because my mom likes any good excuse to have a party), my parents actually offered to throw us one. We agreed but had some boundaries – we didn’t want it to be a wedding or reception. We weren’t going to do dances or garter tosses or bouquets or anything like that. I wasn’t going to wear a dress. We just wanted something simple and low key and us.
Well, thank god I kind of left the rest up to my mom because what she came up with was nothing short of amazing! I was apprehensive that it was going to be a bit over the top. I mean, we were talking backyard BBQ and stuff. But what my parents threw together in the course of two months turned out to be an awesome night of food, friends, family and fun. We had an absolutely beautiful location, an ideal Charleston setting with the water and the sunset and the palm trees. We had excellent food and a well-stocked bar and a DJ who kept everyone on the floor dancing, despite not having a cool breeze and it being hot as Hades, as is common here in the Summer.
Ultimately, we all had a blast!
There are times when I go through dry spells and don’t buy anything for myself. Then there are times I walk into Target and come out with an entire buggy’s worth of crap. I enjoy shopping and I enjoy trying new things. Most of the time, I end up trying things that either have really good reviews or have come highly recommended by other bloggers. And since I find a lot of awesome things through the blogging networks, I figure that it’s only fair I share some things that I love from time to time.
Needless to say, I’ve found some pretty amazing things in the past month or so that I have absolutely fallen in love with.
Some of my favorite summer memories are of the Fourth of July celebrations we’ve had over the years.
There were the fireworks at Brittlebank Park here in Charleston, before they moved it to Patriot’s Point. We’d get there early, before the sun went down, and spread our blanket out on the grass and just hang out and enjoy the cool breeze coming off the Ashley River. This was before the time of smart phones and everyone being connected via WiFi and Facebook and social media so we actually made friends with the people sitting next to us. There was always delicious food – hot dogs and soda and ice cream. And someone was always selling glow sticks that we begged for because apparently the fireworks weren’t enough.
There was the time we went into Philadelphia to watch the fireworks over the art museum. I don’t remember much about that time except for the fact that the crowds were ridiculously crazy and there was nowhere to sit so we stood most of the night and then piled our tired and sticky bodies into the van and sat for hours in traffic to get home. I missed the celebration in Charleston terribly that year.
We spent years after that going back to our high school because we definitely weren’t going to repeat the Philadelphia experience. We spread blankets on the same field where we used to run for gym and didn’t have to worry about making friends because all of the people we had walked those halls with were there with their families. We brought coolers and snuck cold beer into red solo cups and listened as the booms were punctuated by the patriotic music. I always got chills when they played “God Bless the USA” or the “1812 Overture” because those were always my favorites.
My life consists of lists, from simple to complicated. I have an entire notebook of them. I have list-making apps on my phone. I get no greater pleasure than sitting down and handwriting a list of goals and tasks. Sometimes, things get done. Sometimes, I move them to another list.
Most times, I find if I just put them out there, I accomplish far more than if I just let them rattle around in my mind. And I figured since I did fairly well on my yearly resolution thing, maybe I could get a few more things in by having some monthly goals. Short, sweet and to the point, these are all about living and enjoying my life, instead of just getting things done.
This was the summer Steve decided it was time for a new grill. Our propane one had just reached the end of it’s life and sat all dejected and sad on our deck. A piece had broken off and after looking, Steve realized it was going to be such a pain to fix it that it was probably a good idea just to go ahead and bite the bullet and get a new one.
We decided to switch directions though and despite the fact that we did love the convenience of a propane grill, both of us agreed that we missed the good down home simpleness of charcoal. So out he went on a quest and eventually came home with a classic tried and true Weber grill.
I love it because it’s small enough to not take up a ridiculous amount of space on the deck and even though you can’t just fire it up and go, the taste of the charcoal is completely worth it.
Fast forward a few weeks after we got it and Steve decided he wanted to try and smoke a pork butt. So we gathered all of the supplies and get up at 5am on a Saturday morning to start smoking. Sixteen hours later we sat down to a beautifully smoked and delicious meal of pulled pork.
I knew we needed a side and I can’t eat pulled pork without macaroni and cheese. And since he had put so much work and love into his dish, I figured I could step my game up a bit from our usual powdered Kraft mac-n-cheese (because I LOVE that stuff! All you foodies can pick yourselves up off the floor now) to some homemade stuff. The problem I’ve always had with homemade stuff is that it’s usually either too dry or too lacking in flavor. Until a few weeks ago when we went over to a friend’s house for dinner and she served us this delicious flavorful macaroni and cheese that I immediately asked for the recipe for. She complied and pointed me towards this on All Recipes and said they had just modified it by adding crushed croutons on top.
So I knew I wanted to recreate this dish in our house when Steve decided to make his pulled pork. But as with any new recipe, I like to make substitutions according to our tastes and what I think might amp it up. I’m like the Tim Taylor of cooking, sometimes with the same disastrous results and sometimes with excellent results.
Needless to say, the macaroni and cheese dish that came out of our modifications was hands down the best homemade macaroni and cheese I’d ever had. It is one of the few leftovers that was completely finished before we had to throw it out (we are awful about leftovers – save for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner we usually only eat them maybe one night before we’re done with them). Also, just a note, it was totally Steve’s idea to add the Swiss cheese and it was a wonderful decision because, and I quote him, “It really lends a grown up flavor to the dish”.
This ain’t your Kraft dinner y’all.