My Senior Prom (Part 2)

Celebrating my Senior Prom birthday with my handsome husband! Cheers to 60 years!!!

This is Part Two of a two part story of my 60th birthday party celebration in 2019.

“You don’t stop laughing when you grow old, you grow old when you stop laughing.” ~ George Bernard Shaw

Dance floor ready with balloons!

The last week of party prep, Eddie was really able to help with a number of things, including completing our 50s couple look by buying a white tux jacket online! He helped get the wine and beer bought and anything else bar related. One huge item he helped with the day of the event was blowing up gold and black balloons! Boy! That was a dizzying task! We really needed to have those blown up before heading to Miami Café. Then we had to fit them into the car with everything else!!!  These balloons covered the floor in the restaurant and were the last decorations we set up for the party.

I headed down to Miami Café about 4 hours before the party ready to decorate! My prom committee – Denise and Vanessa – and later, Cristina and my daughter, Emily, joined in to help get the restaurant party ready. This included tablecloths, centerpieces and getting the photo backdrop done. We added assorted yearbooks as décor in the restaurants front windows in keeping with the theme.

Eddie arrived a few hours beforehand to set up the bar. We had agreed only to have beer and wine and a signature Tito’s cocktail. But Eddie decided to bring some bourbon from his collection and boy was that a hit! He proceeded to set up the bar displaying everything we had. Eddie played bartender for most of the night and had a blast!

Denise told me back in January she wanted to create a corsage table for my guests to choose from. Being the event planner extraordinaire that she is, she not only created wrist,  lapel corsages and boutonnières, she even put them in plastic containers. They were all so beautiful and I know it took a lot of time to pull together. This was such a special part of the party to me.

Right at 7 p.m. the guests started arriving…and what fun it was to see everyone all dressed up and really getting into the theme of the party! I found out that night, that so many of my guests did not attend their own proms, so they were really doing it up right that night. There were a few who REALLY went over the top, like my friend Chris Miller. I saw him walking in but I didn’t recognize him. In fact, I thought he was walking through the restaurant to see the owner, Luis. As he got closer to me, I realized who it was and I couldn’t stop laughing! He came dressed in full on 70s with a black rock star hair and he even dyed his beard to complete the look! Every time I look at any photo of Chris from my party I literally laugh out loud!

A close second to Chris was my friend Marie.  She made her dress out of orange, white and gray duct tape! I couldn’t tell what she was wearing until I got closer and I was completely floored at how great it looked! In the 2001, Duck Tape brand duct tape started a prom competition awarding scholarships to the best duct tape prom dress. I swear, Marie would have won had she been in high school at that time! She even wore a roll of tape as a bangle bracelet!

Luis brought out his incredible food – jerk chicken, rice and beansas the crowd grew and even added some Cuban sandwiches to the buffet. I was all over those! Everyone took full advantage of the photo backdrop and gave their best cheesy prom poses. Vanessa and Cristina served as official photographers until Cristina’s boyfriend Jerrod (a professional photographer!) arrived. I’m usually the person taking the photos so it was a little strange handing off my camera to someone else. I definitely had fun the next day looking through all the photos!

Once everyone was fed, it was time to crown the prom king and queen. My daughter, Emily, served as the MC during this portion of the party. Eddie was crowned prom king. Then I was crowned prom queen, as a few of my friends commented that the voting was fixed. Of course, there wasn’t any voting so the joke was on them! (Ha-ha…I love my friends and this is so typical!) DJ Rod quickly began playing our first dance song, Ed Sheeran’s, “Perfect.” It was at this point that I really thought I was going to cry. Everything had turned out so perfect and I was just so happy to be celebrating with so many friends and family members. As we danced, Eddie was grinning ear to ear and that made me even happier. We danced a short while together when I called everyone to join us on the dance floor, and they did…

I used my new Designs by Lolita “Sixty is Sassy” wine glass for the evening!

Sadly, my mother couldn’t be at the party because she had been sick all week. We were both disappointed but I felt like she was with me because I was able to wear a rhinestone bracelet she wore to her senior prom in 1956. I also brought along my “60 and Sassy” Lolita wine glass to use at the party because Designs by Lolita creates a wine glass for every occasion – I kid you not!

Louise’s Cake was enjoyed by everyone!  So much so that we didn’t have anything left over!!!  Emily Redmond helped with the cake and making sure everyone got a slice.  You really can’t go wrong with cakes from this great little shop in Hoover.  As I’ve said before, we get all our Zuniga-Odom special occasion cakes from this bakery.

 

I wish I could post all the photos that were taken that night.  Reliving the party through these photos always puts a huge smile on my face and brings back great memories.  My friends and family still talk about this party and I’m so glad they had a memorable time as well.  Here are a few more photos and I dare you not to smile as you go through them!

 

My Senior Prom (Part 1)

This is Part One of a two part story of my 60th birthday party celebration in 2019.

“All of your life you think 60 is ancient, and all of a sudden, you find you’re 60 and you don’t really feel that different. I feel stronger and more engaged. This is the best time of my life.” ~ Glenn Close

Last year I turned 60…

It seemed to happen so quickly too! I mean, wasn’t it just a few years ago that I was being surprised by my husband and kids with a 50th birthday party at La Brisa restaurant in Hoover? Four years prior, I had surprised my husband Eddie with a 60th birthday party at our house. It was James Bond themed but instead of Agent 007, he was Agent 060! I had a tuxedo cake and Eddie’s face superimposed on several James Bond movie posters. We had so much fun! So, as my 60th was approaching, Eddie wasn’t sure what to plan and worried he didn’t have time due to his work schedule either. I told him I would take care of it and he was clearly relieved!!!

I started thinking about a party theme quite a while ago. There was a story about a retirement home having a “senior prom” for their residents and that’s when the idea hit me…why not have a senior prom party??? I mean, when you’re 60, isn’t that when a lot of the senior discounts kick in? And on top of all that, I didn’t go to my own high school senior prom so this was my chance to have one, right?!

I floated the idea to a few friends and they all thought it was terrific! So, now I just needed to get the party planned. I got an early start, as I said. I started looking through Pinterest and trying to think creatively about how to do this. My sweet friend, Denise Koch, an event planner extraordinaire, offered help and ideas and even gave me a book to order supplies and decorations. So, I had a good start on the planning and then I just stopped. I had so much going on during the fall of 2018 and quite a number of event commitments over the first few months of 2019 that I just started running out of time. I also began thinking it was a little weird to throw my own birthday party even though my husband was fully supportive…it just felt a little odd.

That’s when my friends, Denise and Vanessa, lit a fire under me! This was January 17, 2019 and I was doubting whether I had enough time to get it all pulled together. But in true form, they started throwing out suggestions right and left and helped me set things in motion. It was too late to have the party on Saturday, Feb 16th, since my birthday is February 17th, so I decided to have it on Saturday, March 2nd. My “prom committee” agreed this was a good move.

The hardest decision was finding a venue to have my party. I didn’t need anything huge but I did want enough space for about 50 to 60 people to dance and spread out. Vanessa suggested our friend, Luis Delgado’s Miami Fusion Café in downtown Birmingham. I met with Luis and Samantha Delgado to book the date and arranged for Luis to cater the party with his delicious Caribbean style food. The restaurant had the perfect décor for my party colors too with their original black and gold art deco floors!

After securing the venue, I was able to get the invitations created and printed. I decided to do them myself at home and used my senior photo from 1976. In the invitation, I asked everyone to come to the party dressed for prom in the decade of their choice. I toyed with the idea of making it a 1970s prom, since that’s the year I graduated, but decided to leave it up to my guests to choose their preferred decade and it proved to be a good move!

For music, I wanted a DJ so we could have an array of music across the decades and allow people to make requests. Vanessa put me in touch with DJ Rod who played at Fiesta the year before. He was wonderful to work with and really provided the perfect soundtrack for the party. I added a few “prom” songs from the decades which he weaved into his set and it was great for dancing…and my guests DID DANCE!

At this point, it was Feb 20th – a week and a half before the party, and I didn’t have any idea what I was going to wear. While I graduated high school in the 70s, I had more of a 1950s idea in mind for myself. But at this late date, I was going to go with whatever I could find! I got an early start on Feb 20th and figured I would head to a few thrift stores and then a consignment store I had been to years ago when my girls were in high school and college and looking for formal dresses. I just knew I would find something there but when I drove up, the place no longer existed!!! I was shocked and disappointed. So I did a quick google search and found another place nearby, but that place had gone out of business too. Now I was starting to panic. Then I remembered Second Hand Rose in Cahaba Heights and decided to try them. There wasn’t anything spectacular in the formal section. I tried on a few dresses but they just didn’t work. I was starting to give up when I looked through the regular dress rack and found “the dress!” It was a quarter length black and deep blue Terri John dress! It was the perfect fit too! I texted a photo to my daughter Emily, and she loved it!!! She added that I needed some “sparkly” shoes to go with it to complete the look.

So off I went to Belk, which was nearby, to look for shoes. I spotted some Michael Kors sparkly gold shoes with a low heel which got my attention. Then I saw the same pair in silver. The silver ones were 60% off! (Now I was excited!!) As I was admiring them, the sales lady came up to me and said “those are the last ones,” and my heart started to sink a bit. But then she added, “They’re a 9-1/2.” I looked at her in disbelief and actually said, “are you kidding me???!!!” That’s my size!!! She ran off to get the other shoe and when I tried them both on, I felt a little like Cinderella. Seriously, I almost cried when I paid for them. My outfit was complete after a roller coaster day of shopping!

My focus shifted to making sure I had all the right party decorations and the perfect cake. I picked up a number of things from Dollar Tree, Party City and thrift stores. I also ordered from Amazon. I envisioned a simple but elegant venue throughout except for the cheesy photo booth in the background! Our family always gets our special occasion cakes from Louise’s Cakes in Hoover and they always impress. I took a few photos of what I wanted and together we created my perfect elegant cake. I had two layers – the bottom was white and the top gold with the gold on top appearing to drip to the bottom. It was beautiful and chocolaty delicious!!!

Part two – Party setup and the celebration begins!

Around the World in 80 Years! – Mom Turns 80 – Part 2

Mom realizing she was having a surprise party last year on her 80th birthday!

This is Part 2 of Around the World in 80 Years – Mom Turns 80 – sharing the story of my mother’s surprise 80th birthday party last year.  

As with any event being planned, last minute details and unexpected situations pop up and you deal with them the best way you can!  In this case, someone told mom about the surprise party!!!  Here is what happened…

The week of the event, we had a lot going on including my youngest daughters birthday on May 31, her performance in The Little Mermaid in Tuscaloosa and a wedding in Auburn.  It was on our way back from my daughter’s show (June 1) that my mother dropped a bomb on me and my husband.  She told me that a cousin (elderly) had called her to wish her a happy birthday and said “your kids are planning a surprise party for you, but don’t tell them I told you!”  I’m thankful I was sitting in the front seat and mom couldn’t see my face!!!  I could see my husband’s face and he was just as panicked looking as I was right then!  That’s when I went into “spin mode,” aka LYING!!!

Mom was puzzled as to why our cousin would say this to her, of course.  I told mom that I had talked to our elderly cousin’s daughter the week before (this is true – I had texted with her when she told me her mother had mild dementia.) and she revealed her mother had mild dementia.  I went on to spin that I had run into our cousins a few weeks before and mentioned mom’s birthday was coming up.  I actually ran into my elderly cousin and two of her daughters the previous fall. Of course, the reason my cousin knew about the party is because she had received an invitation.  I told mom that maybe she got confused with her birthday and something else.  Mom then admitted she felt something was different when she spoke to her.

Once we dropped mom off, I went into damage control!  I texted my sisters and told them that mom may be “thinking” she was getting a party even after all my “spinning” and I needed their help.  My sister Laurie called her the next day to check in with her and mention she and her husband had out of town guests coming that weekend.  This was to throw mom off if she suspected my sisters were coming into town for a surprise party.  Then, I told mom we would go out to dinner for her birthday on Saturday to give her friend Jenine time to arrive from Colorado so she could join us.  I said it would be just family and she seemed happy about it.  I’m pretty sure mom didn’t think I had time to plan anything elaborate because I had spent the last 8 weeks helping her clean out her house!  So…my sisters and I all crossed our fingers and hoped for the best!

I spent the next few days creating photo collages to display around my house as well as putting finishing touches on the photo slideshow.  I found an old hardbound Atlas at a thrift store many years ago and it definitely came in handy for the theme!  The last party prop created was a hot air balloon.  I mean, I did the best that I could with a tri-fold, brown contact paper, burlap and some burlap bags stuffed with newspaper and some helium balloons.  This was to be the photo prop for the party.  (Oh…and it rained after everyone arrived at the party so we didn’t get to use the prop until Sunday!)

Meanwhile…the weekend of the party, family began arriving.  The last to arrive were my daughter, Anna Marie and my nephew, Adam, both from Colorado.  The plan was for me to pick up mom and Jenine at her house and bring them to my house.  I told mom that we needed to stop back by the house and pick up Charlie because he was driving in from Wetumpka, AL, so he would be riding with us.  I pretended to get a text from Charlie and respond but I was really letting everyone at the house know we were on our way!  Of course, when we pulled up there were cars everywhere!  Mom said something about all the cars and I told her our neighbor was having a party.  I said he let us know earlier that day because cars that were going to be all over the cul de sac.  She seemed to accept that.  I pulled up right in front of the house and suggested we go inside where it was cooler to wait for Charlie to arrive.

I walked into the house first and stepped out of the way.  Mom followed and turned toward the living room where everyone had gathered.   As they shouted all “SURPRISE!”  it took mom a minute before she realized what was happening.  The photos my daughters took say it all and I love that they captured this exact moment!  That’s when my sisters all came up to her for hugs.  Mom was clearly overwhelmed, especially when she saw everyone who had gathered to celebrate her milestone day!  Later we asked about whether she suspected we were throwing her a surprise party and she said she had no idea.  I think if she had, she would have said something to her friend Jenine…and Jenine would have called me!

To say we took a lot of photos would be an understatement.  As I said in Part 1 of this story, it had been four years since we had all been together and we weren’t going to let the chance get away from us.  And while the party was the perfect reason to bring us all together, I loved that my sisters , our husbands, and five of my mother’s eight grandchildren, were able to come back to my house on Sunday and spend the day together.  We had plenty of food left over from the party, thanks to Chef Wendy, and even more to catch up on with one another.

So today, on my mother’s 81st birthday, I will take her to lunch and spend the afternoon with her.  I know we will talk about the party and look at the photos together.  Then on Sunday, I’ll treat her to brunch and a show – Red Mountain Theatre’s production of My Fair Lady.

Happy 81st birthday, mom!  I’m glad we were able to surprise you last year!

Loving her birthday sash sent by cousin Lisa Ramirez for mom to enjoy!

Around the World in 80 Years! – Mom Turns 80 – Part 1

Barbara Anne Zuniga – on her 80th birthday

This is a two part post about my mother’s 80th birthday party last year on June 8, 2018.  Tomorrow she turns 81 and I’ve been reliving the party, photos and memories from the preparations to the actual event.  

My mother has never had a surprise party.  She turned 80 years old last June and I thought it was way past time.  So armed with a great theme – Around the World in 80 Years – I got started surprise party planning!

Months earlier, I’d been talking about how mom had a milestone birthday coming up with my youngest sister, Kanista, and she said wanted to be in Alabama for that.  She lives in North Carolina.  That got the ball rolling and we thought – what if we could get all of “the sisters” together, along with their husbands and kids??!!  I think the last time we were all together – me, my sisters and mom – was when my nephew Adam got married in 2015.  So this became a bit of a mission with that realization!  I contacted my sister Helena who lives in Texas and she was on board, as was my sister Laurie who lives in Illinois.  Helena and Laurie put the word out to their adult kids too.  My mother’s friend, Jenine, visits each year from Colorado so I contacted her to make sure she could make her arrangements for the party.  We set the party date for Saturday, June 8 to make it easier for everyone to travel.  Mom’s actual birthday is June 6.

As the guest list started to grow, I began looking for a cozy venue to host the party.  That was probably the biggest headache.  I couldn’t get the invitations ready until I had a place, right?  And I really didn’t want a restaurant for the party because it didn’t feel cozy enough.  I remember calling one place and the lady who answered got a little snarky with me and said “well, you know it’s wedding season…”  Which translated to, “good luck finding what you want, lady!”  That’s when I decided to just have the party at my house.  Done!  On to the invitation…

Mom’s party invitation – the photo is one I found at her house in a box. She was five years old in this picture.

I’d been working at my mother’s house for several weeks helping her clean out when I found a box of old photos.  Honestly, I don’t even know if mom knew they were there.  So I secretly put the box in my car so I could go through and copy them.  That’s where I found the photo I used for the invitation.  Such a sweet picture of mother when she was five years old.  It was perfect!  I debated on getting the invitations professionally printed and then decided to do them myself at home.  In the invitation, I also requested that people send cards with a special memory about mom to me to compile.  My plan was to have a box of memories on index cards that she could pull and read throughout her 80th year.

With the venue and invitations out of the way, I needed to find a caterer.  Again…wedding season…but then I remembered a friend who had started a food delivery business and had just opened a storefront.  I gave her a call and she put me in touch with her chef – Wendy Bowman.  So, this is probably a good time to talk about the theme I chose – Around the World in 80 Years.  This was a nod to mom’s travels over her lifetime.  Born in Oneonta, Alabama, she moved around a lot growing up and eventually ended up in Cincinnati, Ohio where her parents finally settled for two years so she could complete high school.  After that, they traveled to Cambodia for my grandfather’s work and that’s where she met my dad and eventually they got married.  Throw in living in Guatemala, Puerto Rico, Maryland, Chicago and finally Alabama, you can see why the theme fit so well.  When I explained this all to Chef Wendy, she created a wonderful menu incorporating all mom’s travels.  It was wonderful!

When it came to ordering a cake, I knew it had to be special and I knew it had to come from Louise’s Cakes & Supply in Hoover, AL.  Over the years, this little shop has created some beautiful cakes for my family.  The theme was firming up with maps, suitcases, globes and flags. so I asked about getting a suitcase cake made with decals all over it showing places where mom has lived.  I did find a few examples on Pinterest and we worked together to come up with the perfect design.

I mentioned all the places my mother has lived and I wanted to find a way to showcase those places.  That’s when the idea of a directional sign came up like the one they had on MASH – the tv show!  I found arrows in the Target bargain area for weddings and decided to spray paint them tan and brown and then write the locations in red.  My husband made the stand and then we used a nail gun to attach the arrows.  It was the perfect touch and we placed it in our foyer next to an old suitcase that collected all the cards and well-wishes for mom.  I also added string flags around the foyer, hallway, dining room, family room and kitchen that I had left over from a previous event.

My friend, Sherree, who is a whiz with plants and florals, created four distinct arrangements for the party.  The orchid was for my parent’s wedding photo and was used on the dining room table with the food.  There was also a bright floral arrangement for the living room where guests could share memories for mom.  The one I really loved was a desert scene with cactus next to a globe to represent the Southwest and New Mexico.  She really outdid herself!

The final pieces of the party plan?  I wanted music across the decades that meant something to my mother.  My sisters were wonderful working on this and sent so many suggestions from our time as children living in Puerto Rico.  I created a playlist on Pandora called “Mom’s 80th Bday” and we kept adding to it.  We had songs from Andy Williams, Elvis Presley, The Beach Boys, Doris Day, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and others.  We also included music from musicals like South Pacific and The King & I.  But the most important song to include – Where or When – was my parents song.  When they were dating in Cambodia and would go out to a particular nightclub to enjoy the band, the band leader would see them walk in and immediately start playing that song for them.  It reminds me of a scene out of a Doris Day movie….  We ended up with several hundred songs on that playlist.  I still love listening to it.

Part Two of Around the World in 80 Years shares how I got my mother to the party after the surprise was almost revealed and her reaction to everything.  

 

 

 

Cascarones for Easter!

Cascarones – shown on a Mexican oil cloth tablecloth. The Easter bunny container is one my mom used in her decorating when I was growing up.

Easter is just a few days away and every few years I try to introduce a new fun aspect to our family Easter gathering.  One year it was a brightly decorated chocolate chip cookie cake instead of the usual brownies, cakes and pies.  It turned out to be a huge hit and still remains a crowd favorite with a few family members (ahem…cough…David and Emily!) who have a hard time waiting until after lunch to dig into this sweet treat! Well this year I’m introducing “cascarones” to the family!

So, what’s a cascaron?  It’s basically a hollowed-out egg filled with confetti!  I’ve known about cascarones for quite awhile but I can’t say that they were something we made or enjoyed when I was growing up.  Doing a little more research I discovered they are a Mexican tradition that gained popularity in the Southwest, in particular, at Easter time for many families.  Some say it was like a merging of Latino traditions and the American tradition of dyeing Easter eggs.  Because of the confetti, they are something also frequently used for other celebrations like carnivals, New Years, Cinco de Mayo and even at weddings…although they can also be filled with rice for that particular event!

Looking even farther back in history, cascarones were said to have originated in China where they were filled with scented powders and given as gifts.  Because of this they were very popular with the wealthy.  Marco Polo is said to have been responsible for bringing the eggs to Europe in the 13th century, and again, enjoyed by the wealthy.  They eventually made it to Mexico in the mid-1800s thanks to Emperor Maximilian’s wife, Carlotta.  The lovely scented powders were eventually replaced with confetti and became known as  “cascarones” since “cascara” in Spanish means “shell.”

Cascarones are made by emptying out an egg through a small hole at one end and cleaning it out thoroughly.  After that, you can decorate the eggs by using Easter egg dyeing kits.  When they are dry you can even take it further with more decorating but the best part is adding the confetti to the eggs.  Make a small funnel with paper to use for the eggs to keep the confetti scattering to a minimum!  You can make your own confetti or you can buy it.  Then you take a small piece of tissue and glue it over the hole to keep the confetti in the egg.  That’s it!  Lucky for me though, I found egg cartons of cascarones at a local Walgreens recently.  I was at the checkout counter and there they were!  I decided to pick up two cartons to enjoy on Easter afternoon with my family, all the while thinking, “this should be interesting!”

You may be wondering how cascarones are used.  I figured there had to be a tradition that goes along with these confetti filled eggshells.  It’s said that if you make a wish before you break it over an unsuspecting person’s head, your wish will come true.  Another school of thought is that the good luck goes to the person who gets the egg cracked on their head!  Of course, it’s best to crack the egg in your hand so the confetti pours out on the person rather than actually hitting them with the egg!!!

The other day, I was photographing the cascarones and I gently opened one of the eggs and let the confetti pour out for a shot.  As I took the photo, I saw something beautiful.  I had put the egg down with the paper covering the opening still somewhat attached.  The confetti was scattered in front of it and in that instant, it reminded me of Jesus’ tomb!  I immediately stopped photographing to look up any religious meaning behind cascarones.  I found that eggs are thought to be a symbol of rebirth.  So when the egg is broken and the confetti pours out, it is representative of the resurrection,  Jesus’ empty tomb.  The confetti then symbolizes a celebration of Jesus’ life and rebirth.  So beautiful…I really love this…

This is the photo I took that made me realize there is religious symbolism to cascarones…

So Felices Pascuas/Happy Easter to everyone!  If you celebrate Easter, I hope you enjoy a wonderful day celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus with your families.  And if you made cascarones or enjoyed them in the past, I would love to hear about it!  Meanwhile… let the cascarones crunching begin…and I do hope since this will be a first for my family that they will observe proper cascaron cracking etiquette!!!

Perry’s Pinot and Pork

Everybody who knows me knows how much I love wine. When I first started trying wines I was a huge Merlot fan and slowly moved to Cabernet Sauvignons and finally Pinot Noir. I’m more of a white wine and rose wine enthusiast these days but the pendulum is starting to swing back to reds for me. That’s why I was excited to get an invitation to try the Perry’s Steakhouse April special – Pinot and Pork!

Let me first say how much I love Perry’s wines! I went to a tasting when they launched their new Private Reserve Cabernet and Chardonnay in 2017 and got to hear how they were created from Perry’s Corporate Sommelier, Susi Zivanovic. I found myself wanted to “be” Susi…I mean, could you think of a more perfect job than bringing fabulous tasting wines to people?! She is a wealth of information and I found myself hanging on her every word, that is, between sips of the wine samples!

Last Sunday, my husband and I arrived for and early supper at Perry’s. The April special is a three course meal consisting of your choice of salad, their legendary slow-roasted, caramelizad pork chop and finally, their decadent dessert trio. Let me just say this…make sure you go hungry!!! This combination is out of this world!

Our server, Todd, was so comfortable to talk to and provided lots of tidbits about the food and wine. He raved about the pork chop and even offered suggestions on how to prepare the leftovers, because there would definitely be leftovers with the size of the pork chop they were about to serve! I suggested that maybe Perry’s should post a left-over pork chop recipe flyer for their guests! At this point I couldn’t wait to try the main course. On a side note, I’ve only had the pork chop one other time and it was thanks to my brother-in-law when he was in town a year ago. So having it hot out of the kitchen and watching it being carved at the table was a treat!

We started with salads, Eddie ordered the wedge salad while I had the warm spinach and bacon salad. We had just finished these when the pork chops were brought out on sizzling platters. The young man carving them explained what he was doing…first slicing the ribs, followed by what Perry’s calls the eyelash – a small portion of dark meat and then the loin along with a side of applesauce. He also suggested sampling everything in that order. Wow! That first warm bite was incredible! The caramel flavor along with spices and garlic butter was so rich I just wanted to savor it for a bit.

After that first bite I reached for the Perry’s Reserve Pinot Noir to complete the pairing and it was heavenly! The Pinot Noir is out of Monterey County California and you can definitely get hints of berries and cherry aromas with a very smooth finish. It was created especially to pair with the pork chop and I can see why! I found myself alternating between bites and sips throughout the rest of my meal!

We were so stuffed we barely made it to the loin! I took a few bites and our server Todd returned and asked if I had given up. I said yes and to box the rest up because we still had the dessert trio to go! Luckily for us, the trio is small bite style so we enjoyed bites of cheesecake, creme brûlée and a tasty crunchy chocolate that was like a Nestle crunch bar!

Perry’s is great about offering specials and the month of April is no exception. You can get a glass of the new Pinot Noir for five dollars off the usual $14 during dinner service if you order the pork chop. Or you can get $20 off a bottle of the Pinot which is usually $56. Get the bottle!!! Trust me on this! On Sundays you can opt to get the three course meal that Eddie and I enjoyed for $34.95 and the wine price applies. Sunday supper is from 4-9 p.m. Head over for a delicious time, especially this month (April) and maybe I’ll see you there!

Oh! Forgot to mention that we ordered a side of the steak truffle fries to go with dinner too because well…truffles!

Perfectly Imperfect

What’s your word for the year? I’m sure in January you probably saw social media posts about this question. You may have even selected a word and are living it right now as you read this. I have to admit, when I first found out this was “a thing” to do, I was intrigued. What word would I choose? Would I even be focused enough to follow through with it? Could having a word guide me through my year? What if I changed my mind half way through the year and decided to choose another word? Clearly I wasn’t sure how all this should work! But this past December, I landed upon the “perfect” word. Here’s what happened.

Early in December, I was searching through old photographs to find some pictures of my three kids at Christmastime. On a side note, I had just started working on major photo project with every photograph I’ve ever taken. You remember those days when we used to take photographs and actually take the film to the drug store or places like Costco to get them developed? I was that person who took 10-15 rolls of film at any given event and would also get double prints to share with others! Talk about a pile of photos!!! At the moment, they are all in a heaping piles, sorted by year, in my She Shack just waiting for me to “spark some joy” out of them. Marie Kondo will be very proud of me…eventually…

There was a time though that I kept meticulous photo albums. As soon as I would get my photos back from the photo lab, I would sort through them and write the date taken, where they were taken and who was in them before putting them – IN ORDER – into my albums. When my kids started coming along, it got harder to sort through photos and get rid of any. I mean…these were pictures of my kids! How could I throw even one away, even if it was a little blurry or I didn’t like the way I looked in that photo…my child looked SO ADORABLE! So what I started to do was to select the best picture of the several I would take of a grouping and put the best one on top and tuck the other 2 or 3 behind it and then place them in the albums.

So in December, as I was going through my albums I came across a photo of me with my three kids at Brookwood Mall. Emily was just a baby, Charlie was 5 and Anna Marie just 3 years old. We were trying to get a group shot in front of one of the little Christmas trees that were placed around the mall. Well… it was a struggle to say the least. We couldn’t get all the kids to look forward at the same time and eventually we had three out of four of us so that was the photo that was displayed in the album. Then I pulled the photo out of its slot and two others tumbled. These were the ones that weren’t deemed “perfect” to display. But you know what? The photo I decided to use wasn’t the perfect photo. The photo where I was trying to get Emily to turn around in my arms and my head was turned away and Charlie looked completely bored and Anna Marie was on the ground grinning ear to ear oblivious to what was happening around her…yeah, that was the perfect photo. Actually, it was “perfectly-imperfect.” I even made that comment when I posted it on Instagram.

I thought about this the next few weeks. A lot. How many times do we see social media posts that are perfectly staged and the lighting is beautiful and everyone is shiny and new, so to speak? I know I’m guilty of it…we all are to some degree. But these older photos were really speaking to me about the beauty of imperfection. Think about it. Today we can instantaneously see a photo taken through digital photography or our IPhones. We can retake and retake until we get it just right. But back when I was using film, you had to patiently wait for the film to be developed and then drive to the store to pick up the photos. You really didn’t know what you were going to get until you flipped through the envelope. There was a bit of excitement too when I would do that, hoping that I got just the right photo of an event. Sometimes I did, and sometimes I didn’t.

On Christmas Eve this past year, I had all my kids home and it all came full circle. After they all put on their Christmas PJs, we began trying to get a group photo in front of our tree and with their dogs! The struggle was real but oh what a fun struggle it was! I just kept clicking my camera as my kids kept trying to get their dogs to face me for that perfect shot. Well, we got that perfect photo, but you know what? My favorite photo was the one I captured right before that perfect photo. It shows Emily hugging our family dog, Lucy, and Anna Marie and Ryan rubbing their dog Lucia’s head while trying to get him to sit still, and Charlie getting a grip on his dog, Scarlett. It was just like the photo I would have hidden behind the perfect photo in my old photo album days.  But now I realize…this was the perfect best photo.

 

So, my word for 2019? It’s actually two words…perfectly imperfect. But as a friend said this morning when I was telling her this story, you can always hyphenate and make it one word!  That was “perfect” advice.