Early on (months before her big day), Mandi made it clear that a surprise party was not to be part of this milestone birthday. The girl's a free spirit and the more laid-back of these two sisters, but she likes to be "in the know." So, she shared her preferences and then left the details in my (hopefully) capable hands. I got a good jump-start on things, which is more than I can say for some of my past party-planning. But, when you have a very active almost-2-year-old, working in advance goes from being a luxury to an absolute necessity.
One suggestion that Mandi made for her party (before releasing all control to "yours truly") was the idea of a post-dinner party at a local "BBQ and Blues" joint. The music and the atmosphere were her style, she assured me. Now, I'm not one to turn down a good suggestion, so I used that as the inspiration for the dinner portion of the evening. "Southern Charm" became the theme of the day, And, I do declare, it was a right lovely idea.
corn muffins and last week's quinoa salad, made an appearance. It was beautiful and, more importantly, delicious.
Earlier this month, I promised you that our weeks of missed recipes would eventually be made up to you. The time has come. Four new recipes, my friends. Four. I'd say we're plenty even. And you will too after you taste the macaroni and cheese. In fact, now you may owe me! (You'll find all 4 recipes stored neatly for you in the posts below.)
Now that I've got your taste buds excited and your mind full of meal possibilities for the coming week, I'll leave you with some equally exciting visuals: a few extra photographs of our sweet, Southern-soiree. Mandi gets this week off in honor of her birthday. But, I reckon, there's enough Southern loveliness in this extra-long post to keep y'all perfectly content until next week's deliciousness rolls around.
(top) mason drinking jars with handmade "happy" flags on festive yellow straws
(middle) a guest book to be filled with 30th birthday wishes for Mandi
(bottom) a bucket of locally-made sodas with flavors such as pineapple, kiwi, peach, and strawberry