Chicken and Burgers and Brats, Oh My!

We planned this shindig at the beginning of summer, imagining lots of great food, a large beer selection, and of course – no party is complete without margaritas. Realizing that we’d never get an in-ground pool installed before the cookout, we planned volleyball and horseshoes. Todd was, like, overly anxious and wanted to pin down a date – but, like a reluctant bride, I kept putting it off. 

I love a good party like anyone, but throwing my own is a daunting task. You’d think I’d be good at it since I’m “in the business,” but I am hopelessly insecure about my ability to do this in my home. The preparations began at least a week ahead – we made several grocery runs and stops at the liquor stores to stock up, and I began feverishly weeding the front “gardens” – I use that term loosely because this year we only just began cleaning it up and planting a couple of things and …ran out of mulch. I hoped no one noticed.

Todd was busting tail to finish up the apartment (details will be posted on the sister blog at some point) so that it could be used during the party as well. I cleaned the bathroom, hung a shower curtain to hide the tub (which I didn’t have time to blitz), and placed a hotel soap and a hand towel on the sink. There were a couple of extra patio chairs that needed painting and Todd enlisted Nephew for this task, and they moved my old grill (which, btw, desperately needs to be taken apart and put back together as it looks like it’s teetering on the edge of collapse) up next to Todd’s grill (the joy of second marriages – sometimes you end up with 2 of everything).

The rec room still looked a wreck – since we hadn’t done much with it while the apartment took center stage. The day before the party I was racing around cleaning up the main floor of the house and the rec room was nagging at me like an annoying little flea. It needed dusting, an overall cleanup, and I implored Nephew (who lives in one of the bedrooms downstairs) to please keep the bathroom door closed. The bathroom downstairs requires a complete gutting and I wanted no one to see it. On the morning of the party I still hadn’t even touched the rec room, and I figured eh, no one is going to go down there anyway. I was wrong. My sincerest apologies to those guests who saw it, and yes – we are a mess.

The food was in a constant state of preparation… Todd was grilling chicken, burgers, and brats and I was cutting fruit as the guests were arriving. We had made pulled pork and Todd’s cousin brought buffalo chicken meatballs which were awesome and I am stillwaiting for the recipe she promised. The chafers from the restaurant arrived an hour after the party started with Andy, who had made the most killer mac and cheese known to man. My mom brought her award-winning potato salad – served in a gorgeous antique bowl that belonged to “uncle” Richard and told me it was mine!  – and a plate of heirloom tomatoes and mozzarella. I made white chocolate cheesecake and chocolate cake, Aunt Marilyn brought Todd’s favorite apple pie, and several people brought chocolate chip cookies and other homemade goodies.

The house was soon bustling with people and my brother took over grilling for Todd because he “loves to grill and he’s really good at it,” according to dad, who also failed to mention that those grilling skills become largely compromised after a few cocktails. My apologies to anyone who ordered a medium rare and got charred brick. Where Todd was at this point I have no idea… it was very much like our wedding, where we saw each other when it began but several hours later I wondered what he was wearing. I love to float around and chat with everyone but – also like our wedding – I know I didn’t get to talk to everyone I wanted to.

I finally sat down with my family outside about 3 hours in to have a bite to eat, and good thing too, since I hadn’t eaten at all that day and was on margarita #2. I was careful not to drink too early, as we had invited our neighbors and they haven’t seen me drunk yet and I’m still trying to maintain a clean image (dirty rec room notwithstanding). Anyway, I sat down with my family and noticed some black crusty things on my aunt’s plate and wondered briefly what it was before my thoughts were interrupted by my other aunt asking me if I was done eating yet. It seems they had decided that the next house tour began at 3:15 and apparently the elected tour guide wasn’t eating fast enough.

And so, I lifted up my Solo cup full of margarita and announced it’s time to go! And that’s how the Red Cup Tour was born. It was going well until the final leg of the tour, when I lost half the group in the rec room and apparently they finished the tour themselves. I stopped to chat with my neighbors who were down there (oh God) and felt compelled to explain that the other side of the double doors is currently our dirty little secret. (Other side of the double doors:  a hall leading to our unfinished laundry room and under-construction office – littered with shit we don’t know what to do with yet). I’m convinced everyone has a place like this in their house, but it’s probably no larger than a drawer in the kitchen – not the monstrosity we have.

Meanwhile, on the main floor, the second party was just getting started.

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