Category Archives: Cheese

Who wants to rock the party?

Tyson and Dawn at Mom and Dad's 50 70 Party

So. A few weekends ago we had a big party for my in-laws 50th(!) anniversary. They got married on my father-in-law’s birthday, so it was a double party. And woah nelly, what a shindig!

They got married when they were young and had no money, so their wedding wasn’t a fancy affair. Certainly nothing that would make it to a cable reality show. No billowing white dress, no themed party favors, no elegant catered reception – just a simple ring and heartfelt vows and a new adventure together. They’ve honored those vows through thick and thin in good times and bad, in sickness and health, learning and growing and making mistakes and forgiving them, for 50 years and have come out the other side best friends and still googly-eyed in love with each other. A beautiful example of marriage! If you’ve had the pleasure to meet Gay and Maynard, you know what I mean. They are fantastic.

Their kids wanted to honor them with a bit of what they missed the first time around. A beautiful reception in a banquet hall with all the trimmings – candles and twinkle lights and sparkling glassware… a photo area for portraits with all their guests… a non-catered, but elegant and gorgeous buffet… a cake toast and a regular toast… a slideshow set to music… a stay at a fancy suite at a BnB

We’ve been talking about this for the better part of a year, and really started cranking on plans in August. A thousand emails, task lists, phone calls, shopping trips, and “doily days” (what I called the days of crafting and designing centerpieces, etc. etc.) later – we were ready! The kids, spouses, and grandkids arrived at 9 am to set up. By three o’clock the rather uninspiring church multipurpose facility had been transformed into a beautiful banquet hall, and my in-laws spent the next few hours alternating between gasping, laughing, and crying. (NOTE: click photos to view larger.)


Tim welcomed everyone and blessed the food.



This is some kinda Baptist potluck!

After we got a bite, their pastor and each of their children gave beautiful toasts and tributes.


Pat describing their beautiful marriage.


The granddaughters’ slideshow was a big hit.


Will gave mom a box of kleenex before the presentation, which she swore she wouldn’t need. (She did.)

Clap at Slideshow

But she did clap and laugh and smile a lot too. And Maynard gave a Big Smile.

Tyson Toast

Gay interrupting Tyson’s toast to tell everyone how great she and Maynard look in their cheerleading outfits.

Kristi Birthday Cake

Gay interrupting Kristi’s birthday tribute to her father to tell everyone how among Maynard’s many talents he can also “play Amazing Grace on his tongue.”

Maynard and Tyson Demonstration

Maynard and Tyson demonstrating.

Pam Anniversary Cake

Gay behaving herself (mostly) during Pam’s anniversary tribute.

A personal favorite moment for me was when they did the cake toast. This was my first attempt at baking a paleo layer cake from scratch. Similar to the picaken for tyson’s birthday, this was all new everything – new kind of cake, new techniques, new levels of fanciness – I mean, this thing had to be fancy enough to evoke “wedding cake”. I did NOT want my contribution to the party to end up on Cake Wrecks!

When planning my tasks, I’d left two days for dealing with cakes, but of course that ended up being a day and a half when all was said and done. I was stressed and running out of time and had several cake and frosting disasters. One cake fell so hard it turned itself into a pancake. Lord Almighty! And “paleo” buttercream. Um. No. At least, I couldn’t make it work.

Fortunately for me, I have the Internet – which showed me a delicious stabilized whipped cream frosting (also a first time thing for me – gah! Why do I keep doing this to myself?) AND I have Tyson! Who a) can stay level-headed in a crisis, and be very kind and calming to his freaked out wife, and b) grew up with a cake decorating mother and somehow retained all sorts of cake-related tips and tricks. He knew all about where to buy cake rounds and how to prep and stack and frost and transport. It was amazing. Seriously, without him I’d have ended up crumpled in a corner of my kitchen floor, covered in coconut flour, and weeping. As it was, I was still laughing (and freaking out) at 1:30 am as I frosted my last cake.


1:30 am at the Pink House.

And they were delicious. Ha! (My mother-in-law thought they would be totally gross and weird, but was being a good sport about it all, since I’d worked so hard. The look on her face when she took that first bite and discovered that it was good? Hilarious. #awesome!)

And my sister-in-law took humble white cakes and turned them into works of art.

Cakes Reception

Holy smokes! Aren’t they gorgeous?

All in all, it was a beautiful day celebrating the amazing lives and marriage of Gay and Maynard Wright. I am so thankful for them.

Funny Face

Ha! Love them!

See? Fantastic!

Dad and Mom

Seriously, though. They are fantastic. Happy Birthday and Happy Anniversary!

(Good Photo by the lovely and talented Jenny Arnez.)

Stabbing! Blenders! Chicken!

Lo! There was once a time when it was late, and my beloved wife and I were hungry. Therefore I betook myself to the kitchen, where I brought forth many things. Great things! (I was pretty pleased, at least.)

To begin, I put an orange (peeled), a pear (cored), 1/4 of a peeled white onion, some red wine, and some powdered oregano in the blender. (It was whole oregano, but that simply will not do, so I mortared it and I pestled it, and there it was. Powdered.) Then, in a sudden plot twist, I turned the blender on! All the way on! Woooo!

And all was thoroughly mooshed.

I then dumped the aforementioned blender contents into a pan on the stove, and brought it to a boil. Whilst waiting for the boiling to come forth, I took a couple of boneless chicken breasts and used to fork to inflict multiple puncture wounds. So much stabbing!

Then, stabbing completing as boiling commenced, I put the chicken in the moosh, turned it down to a simmer, and let it rip.

I crafted two sides to accompany the stabbed chicked into oblivion:

1) 1/4 peeled white onion, chopped (but kinda big pieces), covering the bottom of a casserole dish. On top of that I put two zucchinis that I had disked. Then I splashed olive oil, salt, and fresh-ground black pepper on it. Into the oven with you!

2) Peeled a yam, chopped it small, boiled it with olive oil, powdered oregano (see above), salt, and pepper. When the yams were soft, I drained the water out and whisked it into mashed yams.

Wait! I also made a salad.  Mixed greens, green onions, green apple (Granny Smith), olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper.

When I served this up, I put some of the sauce from the chicken on the mashed yams.  It was all quite tasty.

And there was much rejoicing.

Whiskey Awesome

So, you say to yourself, “Self, let’s make whiskey sours! Woooo!”

Then you discover that you haven’t any simple syrup. You don’t even have regular sugar to make your own! Plus, no lemons.

Well, you are a hearty soul, resourceful, vigorous, creative, thirsty. You also have limes and your mom gave you a bag of brown sugar about a year ago and you still aren’t sure why.

You dump some water in a pot, boil it, dump some brown sugar in, turn it down and let it rip until it seems right.  (About equal parts water and brown sugar, heat until the sugar is completely dissolved.)

Take a lime, cut just the tip off of one end, and then squeeze that sucker into your cocktail shaker. Lots of lime juice. Yay.

Now, inject four of jiggers of Bushmills Irish Whiskey into that shaker. (Use the big side of the jigger, sheesh, I can’t believe I’d have to explain that to you.)Now we’re cooking with plastique.

Put two jiggers of the brownsugarsimplesyrup you made into the shaker. We’re getting close! Hang in there, baby!

Now, put ice into the shaker. While you’re at it, put some ice into a couple of Manhattan glasses and fill them with water. Get them glasses cold! (Yes, I suppose you could call them “Martini” glasses, good for you, but we’re talking whiskey right now, so just take your Martini and go sit quietly in the corner like a good boy? Thank you.)

Shake that shaker like it’s never been shook before! It may help to yell “Woooo!” once or twice whilst you’re at it. (I forgot to mention, but this whole thing works better if you put the lid on the shaker before the shaking commences.)

Once the outside of the shaker is frosty cold, remove the ice water from the glasses – dump or even drink it if you’re feeling crazy! Then, pour the precious elixir from the shaker into the glasses, then garnish them with a small slice of lime.

Toast the person your sharing this with! Congratulations! You made two Whiskey Awesomes! Who needs those Whiskey Sours, anyway?