Southern Spring Weekend

I usually don’t write a hodge podge of things all into one post but with so much going on last week in preparation for the weekend—that’s going to be exactly what this is. The weekend featured my 28th birthday, the 45th Running of the Aiken Steeplechase, my favorite Bird Dog Blackberry Whiskey, a new tradition of post race brunch at the Patridge Inn, and another fabulous Avett Brothers show at the famous James Brown Arena Bell Auditorium with some good friends and no sleep lots of fun in wedged between it all!

My fabulous husband has listened to me beg and plead for a china cabinet since we bought our house I imagine. We have a much smaller kitchen and dining room than I’d hoped for but I love it to pieces anyway. However this meant my china cabinet was much justified for storage issues and not just a luxury (although it still kinda is, let’s be honest). So when I found what I knew would be our cabinet about a month ago, we agreed it was an early birthday present. And what a favorite birthday present it’s been—I just figured I’d officially wait until my birthday to celebrate it. But no worries, I did not wait until my birthday to stock it full of wedding china and crystal. That all began within 5 minutes of moving this sweet cabinet into it’s new abode. I also was able to put our everyday plates in it freeing up wonderful kitchen cabinet space. Thank you to the wonderful family who decided to “downsize” and posted this on craigslist—we love it!

If you’ve never attended I highly recommend that you do. You may mumble something about attending Carolina Cup in college, followed by the obligatory “but I never saw a horse.” Well, Aiken cannot compare to Camden. It’s so much better. We’ve been going for—gosh, 6 or 7 years now? I don’t honestly remember when we started, but the tradition will undoubtedly continue for years to come. Here is a sample of this year’s invitation we send out. Some personal information was changed for privacy. We all load up and caravan over with tents, tables, tablecloths, coolers, friends and fun in tow squished into our three trucks for the three infield spaces my parents reserve each year. And even though it’s smaller, it’s just like you’d expect when it comes to spaces. These three are my parents until they decide to not renew, pass away, or legacy down—gotta love it.

Since this was my niece’s first year to really take it in—she was there last year but what a difference a year makes—we got her a super sweet Schleich horse to play with for the day. If you’ve never heard of Schleich toys, they are our new favorite kids toy. Our local Tractor Supply carries the Schleich animals (along with everything else!) but then I also saw them recently at Target. Not sure if they’re at all Tractor Supplies and Targets or not. My husband and I decided to pass new animal toys on to our niece and nephews for all future birthdays, Easter baskets, Christmas gift toppers, etc…And with all the wonderful options, how could we ever run out! Their interests will probably run out first sad to say…She named her horse everything from Pop-Up to Polo to Alice before the weekend was over. It seemed every one that asked her for her horse’s name was told something different—such is a 2 1/2 year old’s mind!

This year we started a new idea of just making everything and charging a small $5 fee. In years past, everyone has brought a dish or cups and plates, etc…but then regardless of everyone’s best intentions, plans change, emergencies happen, and every year something was supposed to come doesn’t make the check list. So the menu was prepared and ready to go. Our offerings included my favorite homemade pimento cheese recipe and a very recent favorite, New Potato Salad from the Charleston Receipts Repeats cookbook.

We also like to pack bourbon. There’s always a standard Maker’s or Jack but my husband and I found Bird Dog Blackberry Whiskey on our honeymoon and it’s been a staple in our house ever since. And it is a straight sipper. Over ice with little water or club soda. Delish. If you  see it out and about I highly recommend it. Now it’s slowly trickling through the Southeast—probably thanks to recent full page advertisements in Ducks Unlimited Magazine—we’re able to find it more easily.

A favorite group since about 2006 when a friend made a mixed CD that included one song of theirs, it’s been love ever since. Some of you may have recently read about them after they were featured in last month’s Garden & Gun Magazine. If you missed it, here’s their article featuring a great video as well. They’ve been gaining in popularity so much since ’06 which is always great for your band, but really sucks when it comes to shows and tickets. Long are the days of $15 local sets, especially when now that the Bell Auditorium is the smallest venue on this leg of their tour. I’m so glad their growing and doing great, but equally glad I could still see them in their “smallest” venue. Absolutely a great show. Oh and to boot, they were on my Sirius Radio (Outlaw Country for those that listen) this afternoon too. And a great opener at this show. If you’ve never heard of Langhorne Slim—they were fantastic as well.

We began a new tradition this year with the “Grand Hotel of the Classic South” the Patridge Inn located in Augusta, Georgia. Established in 1892 in the historic Summerville district of Augusta, this was the ticket for our Sunday start. Some of what brunch featured was as follows—excuse any forgotten entrees chaulked up to the food coma I entered into while dining:
Full salad bar, oysters on the half shell, smoked salmon, boiled shrimp, shrimp and grits and regular grits—which might I mention are none other than the equally fabulous John Martin Taylor’s Hoppin John’s Grits.  Ask how I know that’s what was served? My best friend is his niece and was part of our brunch group! Visit his website to place any orders if you can’t make it to the Partridge Inn. Biscuits and gravy, pork loin dressed in a raisin chutney, tilapia in creamy lemon dill sauce perhaps?, barbeque chicken, collards, scalloped potatoes, bacon, sausage, full omelet station and full roast beef station. All that was then followed by key lime pie, red velvet cake, german chocolate cake, and peach cobbler. What? We seriously sat, ate, and laughed for every bit of 2 hours.

So now we’re resting like a bunch of old and well fed 28 year olds! But what a fun weekend with friends and family. Hopefully we’ll kick our heels up this week before more adventures come our way but not before baking another Banana Birthday Dog Cake tonight for my sweet brown Beaufort. This is a picture from last spring when we took a Mom/Dog only boat trip. My old chocolate lab turns 12 years old tomorrow and I can’t wait to start another year with my good buddy!


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