If you put months of planning in to an evening with long-time friends, I guarantee it wouldn’t have turned out as amazing as Saturday night. With consideration being made for a road trip to South Carolina, about 10 days ago I put an APB group text out to my Cola pals to find out what was shaking for the weekend. Somehow, someway – four of my besties and their men were free Saturday night.
After a little shove from Maria to find out if Susan would host, rather than meeting at a bar for drinks, I reached out to Susan with the big ask. She thought that sounded like a fun idea! Susan has proven time and time again to be an amazing host.
After a few group texts as to who would bring what, the evening was set. I asked my guy Brainard to make his famous Pimento Cheese dip and I made the guac. After years of being called the “Ghost” by my girls because they didn’t believe he actually existed, he met all of them last April at my 50th birthday party.
Last August I walked around the Joseph George wine shop in Willow Glen with friends. I spotted this bottle of white wine. The label stopped me dead in my tracks! And so did the name: Mannequin Chardonnay. It had the coolest label and when I bought it, I told my friend Kristin, “I am going to save this for a special girls night.”
Naturally, I pulled it out of my collection in Tampa just for Saturday night!
My Man and I were the first to arrive at Pete and Susan’s. I wanted to get there a little early to see if we could help with anything and of course, with typical Southern Charm style, Susan had it all taken care of. The house looked amazing and she looked stunning. Beautiful hydrangeas, fresh from their yard, filled vases all over the house!
Soon enough Mark and Maria arrived and then Casey and Marybeth. A few minutes and a few laughs later, Fred and Robin walked in the door with two bottles of Rombauer Cab and a gorgeous hostest gift (an lovely white orchid!). Excellent taste and manners!
We visited out on the patio overlooking the lake and enjoyed each other’s company. Laughing, catching up on each other’s lives. It was the kind of night you wanted to record, just so you could play it back over and over and over in your mind. I already knew Nick and I would talk about parts of this evening for a long time, laughing over and over again about certain things each person said. It was like a good book you didn’t ever want to put down!
The apps we brought, including Marybeth’s Wisconsin cheese plate and Mark’s smoked salmon, were on point. Mark is the Mark of Mill Pond Restaurant in Boykin, S.C. Mill Pond is one of the Midland’s finest restaurants and taking their limo out to the restaurant should be a bucket list item for a special occasion!
Soon enough, Maria nosed around enough and discovered Susan had set this amazing table for 10! We were all pretty stunned because we thought it was just a casual evening of apps on the patio! Instead, it was to include a delish dinner prepared by Susan!
Susan’s famous for being an amazing cook and she didn’t disappoint! Her menu included a fresh salad with goat cheese and homemade croutons, fingerling potatoes and green beans with fresh greens (amazing!!!), and the most amazing beef tenderloin I’ve ever tasted! I need both salad recipes stat for my next dinner party!
Everyone had a place card and candles and more hydrangeas filled the table.
The room was constantly filled with intelligent conversation and laughter. Maria and Mark discussing their two boys together probably brought some of the biggest laughs. It was easy and comfortable – just what you would dream an evening with friends would be.
We all savored our dinner. When it was over, desert was served. Pete’s dog wondered in for some adult time, including turns on Nick and Robin’s laps.
When the night was beginning to wind down, the five of us ladies took some selfies. Grown women, we just laughed at each other and with each other. It was so much fun being silly together.
Saturday night will go down as one of the best evenings I’ve had in a long time. People who say you can’t go back, don’t know my girlfriends! I will forever be thankful for this foursome as well other friends I have continued to cherish since I moved away from South Carolina almost nine years ago. We spoke of Tim, Margaret, Teri, Christie, and Athena as well as many other friends we mutally shared.
The key to a successful long-term, long distance friendship? Reach out with a text once in a while. Drop them a note just because. Remember their birthdays. Remember to be a true friend in good times and bad. It isn’t about expensive gifts or fancy airs, it’s just about being true. I love my girls in South Carolina; and quite honestly, I know they love me just the same!
Why Travel, Cooking and DIY? A creative type, I have always loved painting and decorating as a hobby. Upcycling is a real passion. My mom was a Home Ec teacher when we were growing up. I learned a lot from her and because I love hosting get-togethers, I had to step up my game in the kitchen as well. And lastly, my love of travel comes from my Grandma Schmitt.
An Illinois native, I worked in the White House Communications Agency early in my career (President Reagan), prior to returning to Illinois State University to finish my undergraduate and Master's. After a couple of post-graduate internships (minor league baseball and Big Ten Conference), I then worked in college athletics full-time for more than 22 years -- first at the University of South Carolina for 15 years and then at Santa Clara University for the last seven years. We moved to Tampa, Florida in Dec., 2016 after spending 8.5 years in Northern California.