Well, it’s over, folks. The 4th Annual Harvest Party is done, and after a half a day of melancholy (I hate when things that I’ve been looking forward to are over. Think: post-holiday blues) and two days of solid recovery from exhaustion and a miraculously small hangover, here I am, sitting down in a clean house with my favorite ginger tea, recapping the event as it unfolded.
To throw a party for 250 of your most beloved friends, family members and colleagues is one of the luckiest things Colin and I get to do. I feel truly overwhelmed with love and support each time we politely ask our friends to gather at our house and enjoy some time together spent talking, eating, drinking and eventually sitting by the fire late night–thinking big thoughts. This party never disappoints, and is great for everyone (kids/no kids, vegans/vegetarians, men/women, pets…). Here’s a photo log of the pre and post set up, the friends that I ran into along the way, and whatever else transpired. Sit back and enjoy!
First came prep day. The day that Colin took off of work (the Friday before the party) to help get things ready. This is my favorite time to spend with him, even though we’re rushing around running this errand or that, at least we find time to cook together and this year (BONUS!) the kids were out of the house and with my amazing friend, Sarah, who volunteered to watch them for a few hours while we got things in order. Thank you, Sarah, that was an amazing gift. Of course later she told me that she had hoped we would decide to take a nap together…sadly, no. No time for that!
We got the baked beans cooked (30 lbs), pulled the rest of the smoked pork that Colin made (the last of the 18 pork butts), the coleslaw dressing made (1.5 gallons), and even baked some BBQ Tofu for our friends who follow vegan or vegetarian diets (we even did slaw and beans that were vegan, as well). Thank goodness we had over 200 Virginia rolls from Great Harvest to go along with all that BBQ. Those rolls are amazing—and great for hangovers toasted and spread with butter and jam. Yum!
Friday night we treated ourselves to an awesome date night. First we visited Blue Light for some great new seafood dishes (their menu is mouthwatering) and some beer for Colin and a decadent pineapple + vodka cocktail made by our bartending friend for me. No pics, sorry! My camera on my phone is not behaving these days. After dinner we went to the Cracker show at the Jefferson next door, which was awesome and exactly what we needed pre-party! I mean, what better way to start a party weekend than with a party night? We behaved ourselves and were home by 11, don’t worry.
Our amazing babysitter, Amanda, stayed overnight and helped us all day Saturday to get ready for the party. She even stayed Saturday night to babysit our kids and about 20 others with the help of another sitter, Maggie, and our friends’ daughter, Skye. Let’s just say that after an 8 am workout, I was ready to hop to it and get the house ready for our many guests. From the moment I woke up to the moment I went to bed (we were up for 21 straight hours) it was work, work, party, work.
After I set up all the food tables, I was able to get this shot of our evening view just before the sun went down.
Now, here’s what I like to call the BBQ Assembly Line.
Finally, at the stroke of 5 pm (I always have fun watching this part because people show up ON TIME and the cars just start rolling in), the party began. I was carrying my camera around with me to start capturing special moments until I started swinging it into people and their kids as I hugged them. That’s when the camera went away.
My good friends and soon-to-be-neighbors, Charles & Marjorie, came with some amazing Reservoir bourbon in tow. Charles has been telling me about this bourbon for awhile, as he knows he’s in good company as far as whiskey-love is concerned. His friend from Richmond runs the Reservoir Distillery and let me tell you, as connoisseurs, this stuff is amazing. It was smooth and complex, and Charles tells me that because they make the whiskey in small batches they have more control over the aging. They literally taste each batch and determine whether or not it’s ready based on their knowledge and previous experience. It’s hard to find craftsmanship like that anymore. Plus…it’s available in local ABC stores. I can’t wait to try their Wheat and Rye varieties.
Also on tap were many amazing locals beers from Starr Hill (Boxcarr, Festy, Little Red Roostarr, and the Shakedown (an imperial chocolate-cherry stout)) as well as my absolute favorite cider from Bold Rock, their new IPA (India Pressed Apple). Good thing we got a full keg because I’ve been enjoying that cider for a few days now. It is perfect for folks who can’t eat gluten, since it’s a cider and gluten-free, but hopped, so it’s got a nice beer-like aroma/flavor to it.
Shortly after having a bourbon tasting with Charles & Marjorie, The Front Porch bluegrass band showed up! We were really excited to have them this year and they were wonderful to work with. They play around town as a 2-5 piece bluegrass band and are teachers at The Front Porch music studio here in Cville. I’m getting Declan started with some kids classes in the winter/spring so when I checked them out this fall I asked if they knew of any bands that we could contact for our party. Lucky for us they said they would be happy to! Since it was so cold, they split their time between our front porch and the bonfire. Everyone really enjoyed hearing them play.
Finally, it wouldn’t be a party of ours if folks didn’t come bearing gifts. We are so lucky to have such good family and friends. First, Colin announced a BBQ sauce contest in the invite, and I think it was pretty much there as an excuse for Colin to get to make his own ah-mazing sauce but also for us to get to sample our brother-in-law, Morgan’s, truly delicious BBQ sauce. Not sure if anyone else brought sauce, as by the time I went to eat, it was all gone, but I heard that everyone loved what they were able to get their hands on.
My friend, Stacy of the forward-thinking Good Phyte Foods, so sweetly brought some homemade Peachy Mama salsa made from these awesome peach-colored peppers that she grows (from a hybrid a friend of hers created). I am saving this salsa for a special occasion. And maybe I’ll have to enjoy it with a glass of this beautiful cider. Wow! Lucky doesn’t quite cover it.