Happy Fourth of July...

Ever since Justin and I have been settled into our new place, we've been meaning to have a housewarming party. We've been wanting to show off our humble abode and welcome our friends into our new space. I tried throwing a combination housewarming/birthday party back in April, but it turned out that I had bad timing. Only a couple of people could come, so I decided not to bother. 

Since then, I've settled for entertaining a couple of small groups of friends and family, mostly in dinner party format, but I never lost sight of my goal of hosting a big shindig to inaugurate our new home. When I mentioned to my friend Jess that we'd gotten a new grill, she suggested that we ought to have a cookout, and I took her idea and ran with it. The Fourth of July seemed like as good a date as any, especially because it fell during the middle of the week (so there'd be no weddings or other longstanding obligations for people), and everyone would have the day off regardless of their work schedule.

As per usual, I received RSVPs up until the last possible second, but we ended up with a crowd of about fourteen people. To save myself the stress of feeding that many people, I turned the party into a potluck, with a focus on grilling.

Justin served as the grill-master for the event, and he was a true hero, slaving over the grill on a miserably hot day to turn out turkey burgers, tofu hot dogs, sausages, portabello mushrooms, corn on the cob, and chicken breasts. We certainly gave our little Weber a run for its money!

Inside we had a good range of dips and side dishes, from my quickly-becoming-a-party-classic guacamole, to hummus, taco dip, chips, caprese salad, watermelon, and Justin's famous potato salad. Dessert was also well-represented, including my peach ice cream pie, ice cream sandwiches, and that perennial cookout staple -- s'mores. Not only was everyone well fed, we ended up with an insane surplus of leftover food, especially hamburger and hot dog buns. I guess more people are still doing the low-carb thing than I originally anticipated. We're practically going to need another cookout to use up all the bread.

For the most part, the ladies gathered inside around the food, while the menfolk stood out on the patio drinking their beers and sweating profusely, thereby creating a vicious cycle. I think our central air-conditioning was a major selling point for the party, given the near-record high temperatures we've been experiencing lately. Even though our dining room table expands to seat ten people, we still had to seat people on the sofa to eat, but I was still happy to have such good attendance for my gathering.

Overall, I feel like the party went very well. Even though most of my friends don't know each other, and come from different phases in my life, I seem to be drawn to people with similar interests, and everyone was able to find common ground for conversation. Getting ready for the party and coordinating all the food was stressful, but ultimately very rewarding. After today's fete and the baby shower I hosted earlier this month, I think I may be ready for a brief break from entertaining, but I'm looking forward to doing this again.
I like to call this my "fireworks" dress.
There are few things better than being surrounded by close friends, and being reminded of the kindness and generosity of the people I'm lucky enough to call friends. After we'd gotten the house cleaned up, Justin and I discovered that we can see the Evanston fireworks display from the air-conditioned comfort of our living room. As we stood there and watched the sky light up, I couldn't help but feel very blessed in my life right now. Happy Fourth of July everyone!

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