Happy Hump Day! After a 3-day holiday weekend, do you finally feel back into the groove of your normal life? Chris is back at work, but we have Noah's cousins visiting this week, so we have lots of fun activities planned. We did get to enjoy one lazy day at home, since my brother and his family decided to take the kids to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island yesterday. While it sounded like a fun day, I really didn't think Noah was old enough to get much out of it. Instead, we spent the day recovering from a busy weekend and preparing ourselves for another busy four days of going non-stop!
My brother and his family drove down to New Jersey on Monday. Since they'd be arriving in the afternoon, we decided to host a 4th of July barbecue with them and my parents. I made sure to have lots of good food as well as activities planned to keep the kids entertained. I love to actually enjoy myself when hosting, so I try to do as much as I can ahead of time. Even with all the prep, there was so much to do last minute (like grilling, getting all the food out at the same time, and refilling drinks) that I still felt rushed at time! I can't imagine how I would have felt if I didn't do some prep!
First, I set the table for the adults. I wish I had incorporated some red into my tablescape (being 4th of July and all), but I really like how our blue plates and glasses looked with my rattan chargers. And while I was tempted to add a festive centerpiece, I know that we prefer to fill the table with food instead of something pretty to look at ;)
While our table perfectly sits the six adults, I wanted to give the kids a place to eat as well. I moved around some of our deck furniture and brought Noah's craft table outside. I put some kraft paper on top so the kids could color while they ate and added another "napkin banner" to add some color.
Once the tables were set, I started preparing some of the food. Since everyone was coming over around 3 pm, we planned for appetizers first, some playing, and then a BBQ dinner. To keep things simple, we had a nice mix of store bought and homemade. I also asked my mom to bring a few things as well. In addition to marinating the chicken (1 cup brown sugar, 1 cup oil, 1/2 cup soy sauce, 1/2 cup vinegar) in the morning, I made this black bean and corn salad. My dear friend, and amateur chef, gave me this recipe after I went back for multiple servings at her house. I have to admit that the first time I made this recipe, I followed it exactly and cooked my own dry black beans. When I told her mine didn't taste as good as hers, she felt so bad that she hadn't mentioned that she altered the recipe and uses Goya canned black beans! No biggie, I'm always happy to hear an easier way to make a recipe ;)
Black Bean & Corn Salad
(adapted from Food Network)
2 15.5 oz cans of black beans (I used Goya), drained and rinsed
4 plum tomatoes, chopped
2 cups corn kernels (my friend roasts the corn, I used 2 packages of frozen corn that I cooked in the microwave)
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 bunch cilantro, chopped (I'm not a fan of cilantro so I omitted)
Juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup olive oil
Place chopped tomatoes into a bowl and mix with 1 tsp of salt. The recipe suggests letting sit for 30 minutes. I just let it sit while I prepared the following ingredients.
Drain and rinse the black beans. Add the beans, corn, and chopped red onion to the bowl and mix.
Add the cilantro (if using), salt and pepper seasoning (to taste), olive oil, lime juice, a couple shakes of cayenne, and mix again.
Either serve immediately or cover and let sit on counter. Mix it one last time before serving.
Note: I made this the morning of the BBQ and it was perfect when we ate it at 6pm.
Once my family arrived, it was time to sit back, eat, and enjoy! The adults were all about the appetizers while the kids were thrilled to draw on the table and then play in the sand and water tables. Noah went through 3 shirts in about an hour. First it was because I wanted to keep his 4th of July shirt fresh for a cousin photo (that didn't happen), and then it was because he got wet from the water table and wanted a whole new outfit!
^^^ the spinach dip and guacamole are both from Costco... and they are amazing!
^^^ each of the kids took turns playing the game "knock the fish off the octopus" while filling up the water table
After we finished eating our veggies, shrimp, mozzarella & tomato, and a few dips, it was time to play. We headed to the front yard for some soccer, rocket launching, and finally some corn hole. We ended up breaking almost every single one of our rockets (what can you expect from $5 rockets?), Noah didn't understand that he's not the only one who gets to kick the ball into the goal, and the guys now think they are amazing at corn hole since we set the boards up so close together for the kids ;)
^^^ Noah's faces always crack me up!
Enough play... time to eat again! For dinner, we had burgers, hot dogs, and chicken, as well as a bunch of salads (fruit, macaroni, potato, and the bean & corn salad I shared above). The kids were eager to get back to playing, so we brought some chalk across the street while we waited for our dessert to arrive... the ice cream truck! I mentioned a few weeks ago that there's an ice cream truck company in my town that you can schedule to come to your house. We loved it so much that I immediately called them when I found out the cousins were coming to town. The kids loved getting to order their own ice creams and eat them on our front lawn. We lucked out and finished our ice cream and headed back inside before the rain came.
Noah had so much fun with his cousins. It was so nice to see him running around and playing with them! As soon as they left, the exhaustion set in and we rushed him off to bed before he could have a meltdown. He was fast asleep real quick that night ;)
How was your holiday weekend?