Saturday, June 16, 2018

I Learned A Few Things During Our Cookout This Evening

We invited a few of our neighbor friends over for a backyard cookout and fire this evening. The fare was simple.  Grilled boneless chicken breast tenders with 3 different marinades. Italian pasta salad. Homestyle potato salad. Brocolli salad. Fruit salad. Marinated kielbasa antipasto salad. Cornbread. Chips and dip. Dessert. The food was scrumptious. The adult beverages were refreshing. We had lots of laughs. Great conversation. I don't think any of us wanted the evening to end.

Usually, before we host any type of gathering, big or small, I'm rushing around until the guests arrive. Not this time around. I prepared our dishes and had the chicken marinating by yesterday late afternoon. Making the cornbread was the only thing I had to do today aside from a few miscellaneous odds and ends. Lisa cleaned the grill, assisted with housework, and washed the last of the dishes.

Total. Teamwork.

I had a few hours to tackle some desk work and DIY Dog Mom Projects.

By the time our guests arrived, I was relaxed.

I'm going to attribute that to my frame of mind this evening. It was a mix of participating in the conversations, laughs, and activities and being hyper-observant.

I learned a few things this evening...

1. Bring back the cornbread. For many years, I made homemade Italian and French bread to go with our barbecue and other seasonal foods. Although Lisa and I both love cornbread, I never thought to serve it in place of homemade bread. Tonight, it was a hit!

2. You're never too old for water fights. It doesn't matter if you're 6 or going to be 50 in a couple of months, water fights are cool and fun and bring out the little kid in all of us.

3. Simple food is the best. In May, when Lisa and I hosted a graduation party for a dear friend, we served simple foods. Nothing fancy. The guests at the party commented on how delicious the food was. I had a conversation with a woman who was almost surprised that simple food could be so scrumptious. Our spread tonight was the same. Simple. That's always been my philosophy. Simple is best.

4. A bag of marshmallows goes a long way. For dessert this evening, we chose S'mores. Who doesn't love toasting marshmallows over an open fire, right? Top those off with chocolate and graham crackers. Yum! If you don't like the basic S'mores, you can use peanut butter cups or white chocolate.

5. Our kids loved the attention. Lisa brought our kids out. One at a time. On leashes. Our guests got to spend time with each of our kids. They loved the attention.

6. Not all human kids act like lazy, entitled, impudent beings whose eyes and attention are glued to their phones or TV. When we were kids, we spent a lot of time outdoors. Playing. Riding bikes. Swimming. Enjoying a game of badminton, catch, or kickball in the backyard. Taking walks around the block. Hanging out on the porch with friends. That seems to be a dying art, but not with all kids. We happened to be quite entertained and impressed by a 6-year-old tonight who inspired a lot of us adults to get up and play.

7. We're all human. There's a big difference between talking to people amid the hustle and bustle of daily life and when they're relaxed. Fed. Have sipped a couple of adult beverages. When they can exhale. Unwind. At that point, we transform from superhumans to simple humans who share the trials and tribulations of life and unravel common ground.

8. Little bubbles of inspiration. People have a way of throwing out ideas that inspire me. Whether it's a recipe or an idea for a DIY Dog Mom Project, I'm always opened for those tiny bubbles or inspiration.

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