What a weekend.

We had dear friends come up to visit us from Birmingham for the weekend, so Friday, Julie & I went up to Monticello while the guys did the river thing (Pat has to spend a good deal of time on the river for his job).  As many times as I’ve been up to Monticello and done the tour, I still learned something new.  And I always enjoy a good stroll through the gardens.  The row of chives in bloom is beautiful, don’t you think?

Our annual family Cinco de Mayo bash was Saturday.  What started out as an excuse to have friends over for margaritas has morfed into a huge fest, complete with entertainment for the kiddos in the form of a pinata.  We went through 13 gallons of watermelon margaritas.  I made them in 5 gallon batches in a cooler and just refilled Granny’s punch bowl from there.  There’s also a punchbowl of lemonade for the kids – we went through 4 gallons of that.  And someone showed up with Sangria and so we had a third punchbowl for those.  Yes, I own three punchbowls.  They come in handy.
Edie invites all her friends from school and their parents (and siblings), we invite all the neighbors within earshot (just to be polite), plus any friends outside of that circle we’ve made over the years.  You’re never really sure who’s going to show up from year to year and it’s always a good time.  We added the pinata a few years ago, per Edie’s request.  That kid really has really tried to take over the thing.  At this point, we are starting to realize it won’t be our party again until she goes to college.  And she may very well come home for it with our luck.  After last year’s epic pinata fail (a pair of 4 year old twins took it out, a one-two punch), our friend Eddie made a ‘stronger’ one this year, in the form of a disco ball.  Despite his best efforts,  it only made it in through maybe 1/3 of the kids, if that.  We have ALOT of kids.  We have more under 10 crashers than over 21 crashers.  (We get both).  The kids started lining themselves up 10 minutes before the appointed pinata time as stated on the invitation.  It may not have helped that the stick Pat grabbed for them to bash the pinata with was one of my garden stakes and had a pointed end.  A few used it as a spear and made a few good rips in it before someone took it down altogether.  (Adults drinking copious amounts of tequila and children fighting for sugar are just destined for a good time and a few tears.) Not everyone got candy that fought for it, so we are once again having the ‘what to do about the pinata next year’ conversation.  Do we have two?  Do we just have extra candy on hand for everyone?  (Probably the latter.  Not sure we could take the excitement of a DOUBLE pinata party.)
As if being epic in size isn’t enough for us, the party goes all afternoon and into the night.  It has started tapering off earlier than it used to, but it still lasted until past midnight. At one point it started raining and the party was still well over 50 guests. It is a bash.  As it gets dark, it becomes bonfire time, complete with smores for the kids.  By that point, it’s down to just the folks who can crawl home.  Since we had more friends drive in from out of town for the day of, we ended up with a houseful of overnight guests, which came in handy for clean up the next morning. Although, for a party the size of ours, clean up is relatively easy.  It takes Pat & I a little over an hour to really get everything but the big event tent down. 
Wow, we sound like a circus, don’t we? 

I was given passes to the Montpelier Wine Festival, so Sunday, we had a lovely drive through the Virginia countryside to yet another Presidential home for a picturesque afternoon.  My editor, Rowena, from In The Kitchen Magazine gave them to me, and as her newest wine writer, I really felt I should go.  There was some great wine and that day is a whole blog post in itself.  I snapped that shot above out of the sunroof as we were leaving by some sweet little road.  How gorgeous is that?!?!?

All in all, it was a wonderful weekend.  Lots of good food, good booze, good friends, good times and a wonderful handmade gift from my girl for Mother’s Day.  You really couldn’t ask for more.

All Sorts of News!

The running joke around here is that if it’s outside of my ‘circle’, I have a hard time getting there.  My circle being the route between my house and downtown Charlottesville and Edie’s school.  The full circle is maybe, maybe 2 miles.  My world is small, yes?
Wednesday, I drove up to Baltimore for a dear college friend’s surprise 40th birthday party.  By myself.  I get away by myself maybe once a year, it’s not something I get to pull off very often.  Taking a cab from the hotel to the party was quite the adventure – I realize I need more of these. 
Not only did I have 3+ hours in the car alone there AND back, I had a whole hotel room to myself.  And the party was a good time.  It was great to see everyone. I hung out with Andrea all through college.  I can’t remember her not being there to tell you the truth.    Over the years, we’ve fallen in & out of touch, but the last few years have really brought us back together.  She blames facebook.  But I also think our collective life experiences have made us realize, you only get so many friends like that and you really do need to work at keeping them around at a certain point.  She’s one of those friends that even if I don’t talk to for a few years, we can still pick up where we left off.  Sure we’ve changed in some ways, but in the ways that count, we’ve changed in the same direction.  Not only does she have the best laugh, she’s still the coolest chick I know.  And I’m quite honored to still be able to call her one of my best friends.  (Not that I think I ever let her know that before, since you know, I have issues letting the people I love the most know they are indeed that, but, she knows this about me and is good with it, which is one of the many reasons why she is still one of my best friends.)
As if one roadtrip weren’t enough, I drove home Thursday to get up Friday morning and head over to Richmond to see the Picasso show at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts with Edie. 
No, that’s not from the exhibit, I couldn’t take pictures in there, but as we were leaving we got an eyeful of these in the gift shop window and loved it.  The show was great, I even splurged and got the the exhibit catalog for Edie. After the show, we went to lunch at Kuba Kuba and then we wandered around the VCU campus a wee bit, soaking up the atmosphere of their Final Four glory.  Loved seeing the tents set up at gas stations in the city, selling Final Four memorabilia.

I love my small town, but I do love the city too and I really need to get there more often. At the very least, i need to break out of my circle more often than I do.
And now the news you’ve been waiting for….  the winner in our Cozy Noggin giveaway is Kristin.  Congratulations Kristin!  She chose the Abigail fingerless gloves.  Thank you Anne, for suggesting it and helping to promote not only the giveaway, but my little blog here.
And now for my really big news that I’ve been sitting on for oh, 6 weeks now…..I am the new wine columnist at In The Kitchen online magazine!  My first column came out yesterday, under the column name of Beneath the Cork.  I’ve been quietly working on this for the last month or so.  I’m really quite pleased with the results.  I’ve been a fan of Rowena’s magazine since her first edition and never dreamed I could actually write for it someday.  Her monthly meal planner has been a source of inspiration to me.  I had the distinct privilege of meeting Rowena at Leni’s Second Wednesdays last summer.  I ran into Rowena at city market one fine Saturday morning last fall after Leni’s front porch season had ended and we planned a winter version at Rowena’s.  After our first one in February, I realized how much I had treasured my evenings with those two remarkable women.   They are two kindred spirits when it comes to a good many things, but first and foremost, in our attitudes towards food. 
So, that’s been this week around here.  With the usual work,school, soccer and impromptu playdates and dinner parties thrown in of course.  Next up is getting ready for a visit from Pat’s folks, who are coming to visit with Edie during spring break next week.  Some serious cleaning and grocery shopping needs to take place around here, so I suppose I should get going on that…..