It has been over a year since we moved back home from Washington and Sundays have become mini celebrations on repeat. I won't protest the opportunity to indulge in togetherness when the world becomes increasingly complicated and often just sad. Have you watched the news lately?
This weekend marked my first trip safely taken to and from Atlantic City, all by myself. My sense of direction is less than impressive, much less. And I much prefer to be in the passenger seat when going anywhere really. It leaves more time to daydream and nap if the ride is long enough.
The drive down was warm and oddly pleasant. The music played on with just me behind the wheel. And the gal from Google maps as an extra precaution. Besides the cupcakes I made for the Bachelorette party flying off the seat when I made a turn too quickly, the trip was seamless. I arrived earlier than the other girls traveling up from Maryland so there was time to wander. I made friends with a few seagulls who desperately wanted a bite of my pizza.
We ate, danced, drank, and then ate more of course. My hips did not move anywhere as easily as the lovely Latinas in the bridal party, but I made the most of it. Awoken by the sun peering through the hotel window, we snacked on cupcakes and cake pops for breakfast before hitting the boardwalk for some shopping and priceless people watching. While I will attempt to withhold any judgement, it is well worth your while to stop and peer at the characters on the Atlantic City boardwalk. What an experience.
Sunday arrived and I made the journey back home. The angel of the road helped me navigate on four hours of sleep and a coffee. James had risen early to get Palms at mass and to pick up picnic tables for the patio from Home Depot. He had been wanting them since we saw them a week prior. With all the time we spend outside grilling, they are the perfect additions. He began smoking the brisket hours before any guests were to arrive. I pulled up the driveway to smiling, sun burned faces and the smell of charcoal. Everyone comes with full hands and empty bellies on Sunday. Just follow the smell of smoked meat.
James made five courses or so; I lost count eventually. For starters there were barbecued chicken thighs on the Weber charcoal grill, a favorite of mine and a staple at our barbecues. Assorted pasta salads, stringed Syrian cheese, crunchy Italian bread, chips and salsa and lots of olives. We love our olives from Fairway. Next came hot dogs, followed by pork ribs, and then beef ribs as if there was not enough food had already. Dad made his spicy grilled potatoes and some toned down potatoes for rest of us who prefer not to ignite our palates in flames. We finished the mains off with a smoked Brisket a few hours after the initial course. No other way to ring in spring.
To celebrate birthdays in April, Nana brought along a cake laden with freshly whipped cream and strawberries. The men played darts while the women chatted over coffee. After cake, oysters were shucked. You heard correctly. After the cake, the men made room for oysters with horseradish. While I am not a huge fan of them myself, I admire the laborious effort that goes in to preparing oysters. Dad toted some battle scars on his hands but not so much to deter him from holding our youngest attendee.
She fit in the palm of his hand.