Sean Brock is the “Southern” Man

Dear Dad:

I had to turn on some Drive By Truckers while writing this, in honor of my friend Sean Brock.

I don’t think people who are in the culinary industry in Charleston (and around the south, and hell the country) could deny the impact Sean Brock has had on them in some way, shape or form. For me, Sean has had a lasting impression, one I will never forget and one I want to continue to keep growing through the years to come.

I feel like in some ways I have seen Sean grow up. When we first met, he was the “new kid” in town, just joining the reigns at McCrady’s. My early memories of him was a shy boy who liked to do a lot with foam. And man was it some tasty foam. He was filling some big shoes with Michael Kramer’s departure and came in not trying to replace, but bringing something new to the table. I loved going in his kitchen (and still do) because it was always filled with “science projects” and young cooks hovering around wanting to learn more. He has continued to build his kitchen, now in various shapes and places, and it is outfitted with more preserves and Ball jars than before. Whatever it is filled with, you know it is good and pure.

In my opinion, Sean gets criticized too often and is sorely under appreciated. I have told him this a million times and wanted to dedicate a blog as a thank you for what he has done for me and for Charleston. We are lucky to have him and hope he stays here for a long, long time.

Here are some of my highlights to date of and with Sean and can’t wait to add more to the list in the future:

  • My all time favorite thing about Sean is his smile and laugh. Anyone who has been around him when he laughs, can’t help to laugh with him. It is memorable, contagious and a true trademark of his.
  • His love for learning, growing, developing, mentoring, etc. He is so passionate for what he does and how he lives. He does not sit still and takes advantage of every moment. To him sleep is a waste, because it is time away from what he loves. That says a lot.
  • How can you not love someone who loves (and has) a pug. I too have a pug and I knew the minute Sean and his wife Tonya shared my passion for the cute, pudgy, food eating, snorting, silly noise making dogs, that we would be life long friends. #obeythepug
  • I knew when Sean invited David Chang (who was just making a name for himself at the time) to Charleston to be part of the Festival, big things would happen for us as an organization. And it did and has. Sean has had a huge part in inviting so many of the amazing talent that has been part of our event. Wylie Dufresne, Paul Liebrandt, George Mendes, Richard Blais, Marco Canora and this year April Bloomfield, Ben Shewry, Daniel Patterson and Chris Cosentino where all in some shape or form here from a phone call/invite from Sean. He is gracious about asking, welcoming to those that come and super supportive to our mission and efforts. That speaks volumes and even though he is busier than ever he is never too crazy to answer a call or a request.
  • He is surrounded by great people. In general I hate it when chefs have “people” but in this case, it is appreciated and welcomed. Kristin Cunningham is a saint and keeps on top of it. Jeremiah Langhorne, Travis Grimes and the entire kitchen and front of the house teams rock it at the restaurants. David Howard is an incredible leader and supporter. And Melany Mullens and the rest of the Polished Pig girls really give it their all. If only all chefs could have “people” like these.
  • Damn the boy can cook. There is nothing I have ever had of Sean’s that I did not “love”. And I have had a lot of his food. From 10 course meals at the restaurant, to pig/lamb/cow/squirrel cooked at a Fatback Collective/SFA type event, I have had my share of flavors and tastes. With every bite, you can taste the history, the time and energy, the love he has for cooking. I look forward to the next time I dine with him (which just so happens to be a Magnus Nilsson dinner next month) because I know it is guaranteed to be good, if not great, if not the best.
  • I love a good ole Southern boy and Sean is that true and true. Even though he looks like he might not have showered sometimes, if you look closer you will see that the torn looking shirt is Billy Reid, along with the pants, the shoes, the hat. He carries the southern brand to its finest and has shown the world how cool a redneck can really be. #makecornbreadnotwar
  • He never complains and never says no. He is one of the most giving and caring people I know. Look at his schedule–New York one day, Atlanta the next. Charleston in between and on to the next. It is all for good causes, including preaching the southern life. He should be applauded for that! Thanks Sean.
  • There are many moments I just can’t write about. Mostly because I got “brocked” and could not handle my intake of pappy at that moment in time. I am always jealous that he cannot only hold his own, but functions astonishing well and pull overnighters like it’s no one’s business. He is polished and cool no matter what, and he always brings something interesting to the mix, aka how to throw up drinking sprite while eating a banana.

So as you can see, I have a lot of reasons to write this blog to Sean. I am sure his cheeks will get a little pink with embarrassment, but he deserves a little praise and cheer. He is such a wonderful person, has such great intentions and has such incredible aspirations. I just can’t wait to see what he does next. Right, Montel Williams!

AP

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You Asked for It…Politics

Dear Dad:

I am probably not alone when I say I am really sick of politics right about now. And, please take this as no insult, Mr. Past Politician. But always around this time of year I get so tired of the bashing, the insulting, the “I’m better than the other guy promising the exact same thing.” So what am I doing. Writing about it. Because amongst all of the negativity and craziness of elections, I have to admit that politics has had and still has a huge impact on my life.

Yes, I know rule #1 is to not ever talk about politics but I can’t help it…it is in my blood. Being raised by you Mr. Senator, Honorable Ernie Passailaigue, made me love politics. You showed me the good. You showed me why to be a “public servant”,  which despite what anyone says or knows, is the true definition of most politicians. Sure there is a paycheck but that amount of sacrifices and long hours is not worth the amount any check can give. You were the ultimate politician. You cared, went door-to-door because you wanted to hear what people wanted and needed. You called people back no matter what time of day or night. You helped people with any and all causes. I was always at awe of your dedication and love for your constituents, your district, your city and your state. If only all politicians could be like you.

And a lot are! Being raised the way I was by who I was (Mr. I have a bridge named after me) made lots of doors open. I met several who were in the state legislator and they were all like you. Thank god…there are some great people running our state (and our country). Even though there are people in it for the wrong reasons like personal gain, there are a handful that were just “sick of” issues and wanted to make a difference. Both Democrats and Republicans. I have had the pleasure of getting to know so many great politicians and they have all done a lot great things to make the place I live better. And that is what politics is all about.

I love being a mix of both a Democrat and a Republican. I don’t consider myself green or independent, but I find myself supporting the best person as I see it. That is the beauty of politics. You have a choice and you can “vote” for people who you feel is the best candidate. Why the majority of people don’t care, don’t vote and don’t get involved baffles me. EVERYONE should vote, no matter which way they want to.

So I guess I am writing this to thank you for getting me involved in the process, system or whatever you want to call it at an early age. I loved going door-to-door, loved meeting the people and hearing their stories. I loved going into people like Jean and Bennett Helms house and being offered cookies while they shared their stories of Charleston past, present and future. I loved the BBQ picnics, the gospel services, the donors and best of all the polls on election day. It was all incredible and something I will never forget or stop doing.

I have always wished I could be a politician (even though my job is very political). I guess I am a little selfish and want to spend the time in my own way. I also hate that we have gotten ultra consumed by people’s deep personal issues and/or past instead of what they do day in and day out. Bring on the debates, please be true to what you say and thank you for serving, but keep it clean and positive and focus on hope and the future.

And now after re-reading this I might become a speech writer (another dream I had and maybe another blog). But what I promise, thanks to you and your dedication, is that I will always give back to the place I live, to my family and friends and to the beliefs I have.

THIS MESSAGE WAS PAID BY

AP

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My Top Ten

Dear Dad:

I will be honest, this list is coming about after a night of drinking with Arnold. It’s what we do some Friday nights, after the kids are (finally) sleeping–go outside, listen to music and enjoy the night. We talk about our day, our week and even our life. And this night in particular, we talked about my top ten.

Yes, I have had a ton of top ten moments. Hell, I had a top list for our Southern Food Road Trip this year (another blog, don’t worry). But this is the top list of them all. It is my top ten life moments and experiences to date. It is the times and things that I will no matter what (hopefully) ever, ever forget. These are the moments that made me who I am today (in no particular order):

  1. My wedding. What a special, special time. I know you know. You were there. We could not have picked a more perfect place than Tortola. And not just Tortola, a Catholic church on the tip of the island, sides open, locals singing and 10 or so friends and family. It was more than magical. The whole thing was spectacular…The Bomba Shack, Willie Ts, Virgin Gorda, Jost Van Dyck, Bomba’s, and Bomba’s again. It was really just one of those life changing times and I really hope we get to go back next year to celebrate 10 years!
  2. Going to Guadeloupe. I was pissed about this trip. Me, about to turn thirteen. All I wanted for my birthday was new clothes but no you loaded me and Michele up with a 50ish old “guardian” for two weeks to Guadeloupe. WHAT? That was probably the coolest trip I have ever been on and only wish I had gone on more. The waterfalls, my first champagne (no age limit on drinking, not that it mattered), Madonna on my tape set, first boy crush, the bull in the field, the clubs and dancing to disco and the clear, clear water. Seriously! Wow, and thanks!
  3. Having my two little boys. Both pregnancies were totally different. One a week late and the other planned to the t. One with a six-week maternity leave, the other with an hour. One ended with food from Ken Vedrinski, the other with whatever the hospital was serving after I had watched Food Network for eight hours while in labor (BRING ME SOME GD FOOD! NOW!). Both ending with tears, amazingness, love, tears and the most precious things I will ever, ever imagine. I loved every minute of it and am so blessed with the family I have.
  4. Raising the Hunley. That was beyond incredible. It was because of you that I was even there. And not just there. On the phone with The Today Show producers for two hours hoping for an interview. We were bumped after it all, but that was their loss. Being in one of two boats right there as they pulled up that submarine was surreal. It was magical. And even though fireworks did not go off at that very moment, it felt like they did.
  5. The SIIS Road Trip. This year “Southern Food Road Trip” with friends and colleagues Randi Weinstein and Sara Donahue is one I will never forget. It was probably the most fun I have had 10+ days in a row. The two of them were the perfect traveling companions and we had the adventure of a lifetime. From Atlanta with cabbie Mike, to Nashville honky tonking it, the Garage Bar in Birmingham, to the square in Oxford, and Memphis in May hanging with Peg Leg Porker. It was a trip of all trips and I cannot wait until next year.
  6. Theyka and Jermaine Husser’s wedding. This wedding from start to finish was one of the most unique weddings I have ever been to. It was my first wedding where events started one or two hours after they were scheduled to. I have to admit a dry bachelor party, rehearsal dinner and reception were a first as well. But I felt so special and loved strutting down the aisle to Barry White. I did have to get rid of the hot pink rhinestone shoes, but I admit the plaid pink dress was a favorite. Love you guys for having me a part.
  7. Any of our Amtrak train rides always provided good memories, I mean stories. The people you meet…the people you meet. Especially in the bar cart. The year you, me, Jacques and Jack went to New Orleans, well that was just f-ing awesome. We were drunk before leaving the station and managed to stay that way the entire trip. Jack had to be “escorted” from the station to the hotel and that was a continued theme for us all the entire trip. I loved meeting Maurice Bessinger (or so they said), and getting in fights with Carolina fans opposed to LSU.
  8. Any of the Aquarium exhibit openings. There were several I organized with my partner in crime Ashley Gunnin, but I am most proud of the last one I did before leaving there. Amazon’s opening was not just an opening, it was a spectacle. I tried to get Jeff Probst from Survivor for event but settled with a torch run through the streets of Charleston with a dozen or so local celebrities. The final runner, Mayor Riley ended the race in Liberty Square to light the main torch. He was greeted with thousands of area school kids dressed in Amazon animal costumes that they made for the celebration. We had bands, dance troops, local dignitaries, media from all over the state and more. It was one of the largest events I executed at once, and turned out perfectly. What a way to leave a place!
  9. World Cup Soccer, circa 1994. This experience prepared me for what I do today. Being selected as one of two interns for the position, I got to experience so much when USA last hosted the event. It is the Olympics of soccer and was really my first international large-scale event. Being Striker the Mascot (in a grocery store), serving as an assistant to Andrew Shue, waving to a helicopter camera crew on City Hall in Orlando for ABC’s Good Morning America, and planning many social happy hours for the staff and planning committees, they were all pinch me moments.
  10. The Festival. Seriously if you had told me that nine years ago, I would be running one of the top culinary festivals in the country, I would have laughed and maybe doubted. I just can’t believe it sometimes. What started out in my Home Team office, then in my house, then in a Board members space (thanks Rick and Linn), then to a classroom at Trident’s Palmer Campus, to where we are today. Seven full-time staff members, 85 events in one weekend, almost $9 million in annual economic impact, and an event that helped spur three back to back James Beard winners in the city. The most memorable and important moments of it all has been the friends I have made, the experiences I have had. I love Charleston and what better way to spend my life than promoting the people, places and things that make it so special. We are so lucky to have the chefs, restaurant owners, beverage professionals, service professionals, taste makers, artisans and farmers, non-profit organizations, companies that service, architecture and history, hotel owners, politicians, volunteers, media and writers that we do….you name you, I love and appreciate them all! You make my life that much better and I live for the next year to celebrate and promote it again!

So sure, I will have some more top moments but I am lucky for all those top moments that made me me.

Love,

AP

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Can’t resist…camping

Dear Dad:

This is one thing we never did together and I wish we had. It has to be one of my all time favorite things to do.

But then part of me is glad we did not. It is one of the things that my mom and I have in common. She actually introduced me to camping. At an early age, she was traveling around the US from campground to campground. Some of those trips, I was a part and some I was not. The ones I was, I loved. The regulars, the social activities and the really bad vegan food.

Now I am officially addicted. I have always enjoyed it. Arnold and I have had some of our best adventures in a tent, especially when it was perched along a beach. We traveled the entire Florida east coast in a tent and to this day talk about what an amazing time we had.

Having two boys, it is only appropriate and expected to camp out. Most of our trips have been to a nearby campground but they still provide the same experiences as farther away.

So here is my top ten+ favorite things I really dig about camping–things that make me long for the next time we go:

1. There are so many serious campers out there. I would say 9 out of 10 are pretty hard core.
2. You are official if you have a sign with your name and all the kids listed on it. Carved out of wood is best.
3. It’s a good time to break out the college football gear. And I am talking tents, chairs, macked out golf carts, flags, tshirts. You name it, you see it.
4. The bathrooms/showers, enough said.
5. Becoming a gourmet camping chef and experimenting more than normal with hand made measuring tools.
6. The daily activities, including trail hikes, tie die making, ice cream socials, game nights and best of all pancake breakfast.
7. Meeting people at those events.
8. Trying to get your kids to sleep.
9. Having your birthday/Christmas list full of camping needs including tents, toilets, showers and more.
10. S’mores. And the mess they make.

11. Dee Jaying by the camp fire.
12. Smelling like camp fire.
13. Sleeping on a half inflated mattress.
14. Having to use the bathroom
15. The animals and bugs.
16. The picnic table.
17. rain
18. Best of all, the memories.

Camping as we type,

AP

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Music…Mr. Deejay

Dear Dad:

If you did not already know it and you do…I love music. I always have. My first memories of music involved beach music. Your love for beach music was contagious. To learn to shag before my teen years was impressive. Then you had me help pick the intermission songs for the Charleston Royals games. Wow! I knew how cool that was then and it is even cooler now. Madonna, Bruce Springfield, U2, Clarence Carter. What a mix. And all on albums and tape cassettes back then.

Then there was Michele’s influences. She would take me to real grassroots shows like the ones in the middle of a mud field “a.k.a. blueberry farms” in Red Top. I saw Widespread Panic, Drivin N Cryin, Hootie and the Blowfish and many other up and comers. I admit it that our seven hour grateful dead driving trips did not bode well. I cannot take an over 15 minute jam even today.

I love that my taste for music has always been diversified and eclectic. Kayne, Phish, Tim McGraw in one seating. You should see my IPAD iTunes account. It has 20 playlists just based on music styles alone.

Some of my all time favorite music and music related experience have been going to live music shows. Live music provides the very best experiences in life. The first ever Lallapolloza Tour, Phish live wherever, Janet Jackson front row, Dave Matthews, Jimmy Buffett, WIDESPREAD PANIC!!!!!!!, Rolling Stones, John Meyer, Barenakes Ladies, and of course Warren Haynes and Gov’t Mule.

I knew my husband was my soul mate when he showed me his concert ticket stub collection. One of the first things that I asked was when he actually went to school. That was because the container was jammed pack. Apparently for the first few years of college, he was on the road following music (and selling carpets)..and not just any road, but Red Rocks, Madison Square Garden, House of Blues New Orleans….you name it, he was there. Hell when Georgia Theater burnt down, he cried and he is still in major withdraw about Panic’s two-year hiatus (as am I).

Then there is Home Team. The premise behind this fraternity amongst the music travelers is one of the coolest things around. It makes sense. As you travel around following your favorite band, in this case mostly Panic, you start recognizing the same folks, and no matter where you are there is a “home team” there if you need them.

So music is really everything. It puts me in the best mood, makes me dance, allows me to connect. It is really all that I need to fill my soul. And that is why I wake up listening to it, spend loads of money purchasing it, sing to it at karaoke (and no I cannot sing), play deejay at almost every social event and live to go see it whenever I can.

Here’s to the next show, and where’s my mule!

AP

Note: was listening to Drive By Truckers Daddy’s Cup while writing this post.

Girlfriends!

Dear Dad:

I have to say that one of my all time favorite things that has been a constant in my life has been my girlfriends. I have had some of the most amazing friends a girl could ever want or need. The thing I learned along the way, is some friends are forever and some are for a moment in time. Regardless, they have all had a huge lasting part of my life.  One I want to share:

Ashley: My very first friend ever, and I will never forget her. We connected through our parents when we were around 6 months and remained best friends for many years. It wasn’t until I thought I was too cool, did we start to drift apart. She could call me today and I would do anything for her or her family.

Ansley: Ansley has been the person who has had the most impact on me as far as girlfriends go. We too met at 6 months years of age and were sole sisters instantly. I lived to be with her and even though we came in and out of each others lives (and still do) she was always there for me. We had an amazing time together as teenagers. Most of the time we went to different schools, but that never mattered. When she started dating Travis and we were in similar clicks, the rest was history. We then followed a surfer and moved to Florida together. The memories there are ones I can never write about but ones I will always remember! I would have had a blast finishing off our college years together. We don’t see each other enough but I will always be a phone call away for her.

Maggie: Maggie was my Forrest Gump friend. We met while riding a bus in first grade when she came up to me and introduced herself when no one else would. The rest was history. When we reconnected years later, we spent most of our days together and did lots of crazy things. Wild Dunes was our playground and my memories of the beach will always include our years together.

Sisters: Michele, Toire and Alys Anne have always been some of my best friends. I love them dearly as family but I also love them for the friendships we have shared. We too have gone through peeks, valleys and mountains and sometimes we are closer than others but I love them more than any other friend I have ever had.

Alpha Delta Pi: There are too many friends aka “sisters” to name, but ADPi produced the greatest number of friends that I have ever had at one time. I loved becoming a sorority sister and instantly having so much love and support. I loved the spirit weeks, the formals and the Greek Week parties. I especially loved breaking the rules, living  in the house and driving Mama Jean nuts! I have big “lemon drop” shot love for my roomies Liz and Jenn and have so many crazy, awesome, life long memories because of all those girls. Pi love!

Khaki: I was technically Khaki’s boss but we became more of great friends and fun work mates than anything else. She and I instantly bonded (especially when she embraced my pez collection) and even though we only had a few years together in the same city, she was (and is) a really important friend. I really love that we can go a year without talking, and instantly pick right up on things, like it was yesterday. I love that she takes such great care of herself and she is just so much fun. I can’t wait until that next trip when we see each other again.

Amy: This is going to break my heart to write and she will probably have her own letter/blog some day. Amy was an intern for me at the Aquarium and we instantly became friends. She was a red-head with a passion like no other. She loved life, loved the planet, loved to surf…on and on. She was the most thoughtful friend. She would buy me little gifts just because and she was always asking and remembering about my most important moments. That is why it was so easy to become friends. It was devastating that she had cancer and eventually died. My first friend to die and I think about her all the time. If I had a daughter I would have named her after Amy. That is how amazing she was.

Festival (girl) Friends: There are too many people to list here. Lisa, Linn, Ashley, Annie and now there is Melany, Melissa, Sarah and more. I have met and become friends with so many amazing women who each have impacted me in incredible ways. We have been friends throughout the years and only continue to get to know each other. I love the new girlfriends I have met even recently and cannot wait to have fun adventures with them.

Friends with Kids: I have met a ton of people through my two boys and am glad to say some of them have turned out to be really good friends. We are mostly too crazed to really hang out to get to know each other, but there are a few that take the time to take a break. Meeting these new friends, has reminded me that it is important to be open to new people and experiences. I could list several names but the one friend that has really become an instant BF is Eva! I am convinced that her and I have known each other for life–that is how easy it is. I hope to have these friends part of me for the years to come.

Festival Staff: I know you should not be friends with who you work with, but too bad. The girls I work with are more than friends, they are family. I am so fortunate to have some amazing women on my team and I have really loved getting to know them through the years. They are quite the friends, and quite the team.

So there is just a sample of the girlfriends I have part of my life. I can’t wait to see the list I add to this in the future!

AP

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All of My Exes

Dear Dad:

It is a little risky to write about ex-boyfriends but after meeting up with one today, I feel like it is incredibly timely and appropriate. I also write this to have no disrespect to my husband Arnold who stole my heart over 10 years ago and is the best of them all! To be honest I don’t even remember all of the guys I dated. There have been some wonderful ones and ones that latest an hour. But I would be lying if I did not believe that all exes had a purpose in my life…some had incredible impacts on me. Below is a tribute to the ones that I probably cannot ever forget and ones that had an impact on who I am today:

Jimmy C.: Let’s start with Jimmy. Even today when I see Jimmy I harass him for being the first person I ever went “steady with” even though it was only for a few weeks. We had both just turned 13 and all I can remember was his swim meets and him riding his bike all the way to my house and then having it stolen. To this day, he still asks for me to buy him a bike.

Michael R.: I am not sure if Michael and I ever really dated. We were always dating others when the other was not. It never worked out but he really should have been a boyfriend. He was a best friend for sure and someone who always made me smile.

Ryan M.: When Ryan asked me to be a friend on Facebook a few months ago, I have to admit I was a little shocked. I hadn’t seen or talked to him in years. He was my first serious, long-term boyfriend and even though it should have been outlawed, we shared so much cool stuff together. I loved our hours on the beach while he surfed, I loved our travels, and loved our love of music. He also really introduced me to the Windjammer since he lived across the street at the time, and I will cherish my times at the bar, especially flirting with the Dillon brothers and thinking I was hot enough to win a bikini bash!

The guy with snakes and a motorcycle: I hate to admit it, but I don’t remember this guy’s name and I am really glad for that. I am not sure what I was thinking, but it was the most adventure and danger I have ever had. Being on a motorcycle all summer in Melbourne almost killed me and produced many scars to serve as a constant reminder of the foolishness.

Joel: What a super, super sweet guy he was. I loved so much about him but really loved his Filipino parents and their meals. Joel’s mom never thought I ate, but I sure tried anything she cooked. It was probably the most amazing food I have ever had.

Josh C.: Josh reconnected me with my love for jam bands. Since moving to Florida, I didn’t get a lot of southern music in my mix. But Josh brought it back and it was awesome to jam for hours. I remember we both loved to quote Caddyshack…”danny, caddy scholarship!” He was so happy and brought so much joy in my world.

SAE: Ok so I did not date the fraternity but some days it felt like I did. After being selected as their “sweetheart” during my years at UCF, I spent most waking moments there either organizing parties, partaking in parties and having a lot of fun!

Bryan M.: I could say so much about Bryan. To this day I can say he was the first person I was truly in love with and was the first person to break my heart. He was so full of life. I loved how he did not do anything by the book. He was an entrepreneur, from a close night Irish Catholic family, loved his “dawgs”, and could spend every day he could out on the water. I will always owe Bryan my life. He saw how sad Florida had made me and how home sick I was. He helped me realize my need for family and helped move me back to Charleston. It was hard to let him go but he will always have a place in my heart.

There have been others but these guys really made a lasting impression, good, bad or indifferent.  I do want to thank every boyfriend who has cared for me in any way. You have made me who I am today.

AP

Here Comes the Bride…

Dear Dad:

Ok this topic, weddings, I am not sure is an inspiration, it is just a good one for the books. During an interview this week with an event planner, I started talking about weddings and could not help but have flash backs. Not about mine necessarily, but all of the other ones I have been privileged to attend. Or should I say to the ones I have had the pleasure to enjoy, drink and make the ultimate fool of myself at. Weddings have to be some of the most enjoyable experiences I have ever had. And think about it, who does not love a good wedding.

Weddings for the most part bring out the best in people. Everyone loves a good wedding to get dressed up for. The best are the weddings that you love/have a connection with the people who are actually getting married. At most of those weddings, you have things in common–the band, the food, the place. It all comes together. My favorite wedding of all time for the full experience was Anne Byrd and Matt Hamnett’s. It was on Annie’s parent’s Bluffton summer-house on the marsh. The weekend started with an informal oyster roast, went into a beautiful bridal luncheon and then ended with an amazing three-part celebration with gospel singers, celebrity styled tents and food by talented chefs like John Zucker and Mike Lata. The fireworks and sparkly light exit was one that will remain in my mind forever.

One of the funnest weddings I have been to was Matt and Kristen McKeown’s. Vowing I would not “drink a lot” I proceeded to have too much wine (no thanks to Lisa Brophy and Grassroots Distributing). Matt knowing my weaknesses convinced me to do my unpolished version of a recital dance to Kayne West in front of everyone. I am pretty sure there is still a video. And I seemed (of what I recall) to have a really, really fun time. Updog!

Weddings make you smile, cry, laugh, slow dance, and just enjoy the moment. You celebrate the good, the potential and what is to come. I love the service and always am intrege by what the party selects for their vows and readings. I love the music selected to march down the aisle, the nervous children carrying the rings and flowers and the proud moms, dads and hopefully grandparents relishing in the moment.

But let’s get to the really good stuff. People are just plain crazy at weddings. It is one of the times you have an excuse to be stupid and drink as much as your heart contends. You dance when you don’t dance, you hang out and act like best friends people you hardly know and you just have the time of your life.

I have been part of several weddings including my own and they have all been crazy, wonderful, memorable times. Strutting to a Barry White song, drawing a prayer flag for a quilt or dancing to the drumming of Sunny Ortiz of Widespread Panic…you name it, I have experienced it. And I am glad I did. Weddings have got to be some of the best places for stories, memories and times I will never forget.

I couldn’t end this without mentioning my own wedding. Chosing a destination wedding in Tortola, BVI was the best thing we ever did. It was a magical, life changing trip and I pinch myself every day to have had the day that I did. I also often look back on that special time and celebrate the fact that “we found it”! And I long for the day, I get back there and celebrate a full moon party again at Bomba’s.

Here’s to a lifetime of fun and amazingly fun weddings!

AP

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My Inspiration

Dear Dad:

Ok, I know this sounds like a generic topic, but it is going to be anything but. What inspires me is similar to my taste in friends, places to eat, what shows I watch, who I find cute, etc….it is all over the place. I am inspired by it all!

More specifically, I am inspired by:

  1. Even though I am a Bravo junkie, I really live for shows and documentaries that make you think. 60 minutes does a great job a lot of the times with this and so does CBS Sunday Morning. The one film that I think about over and over again is the series Spike Lee did on Hurricane Katrina for HBO. I must have watch those films over and over and each time I cried, and then cursed out the leadership of our country. How dare they! I also love commentary by people like the late Andy Rooney. Andy was a master at making you listen and agreeing to every word even when you didn’t want to. I love people and shows that make you think.
  2. The outdoors has a very special place in my heart. I would live in a tent if I could and travel around as much as possible. I would love to wake up each day to a new environment and go outside and look up. Because it is all about looking up! The beach, the woods, the mountains, the sea…it all has a place in life and provides so much inspiration.
  3. I love to shop and believe it or not it inspires me. Every time I go to buy a cute new top or dress, I get pumped up about a new project where I can be creative or the next great event where I can style out my new purchase. I wish I had an unlimited account just to shop because it always fills the soul in so many good ways.
  4. Music is the key to life. I could dance my day off and love to listen to a range of good tunes. There is NOTHING like a live music show and I can pretty much go see anyone and jam out. I love the profession and am inspired by anyone who spends their life belting out a good tune.
  5. Good people are a huge inspiration. Those are the people who have no motives, who love you and love life. They listen and are interested in others. They are caring and want to do the best in life. They are givers and would do anything to care for others. I would love to be surrounded by selfless, loving, amazing people…please make more of them.
  6. Bad ass women are pretty inspiring. I have been fortunate to work for so many of them over the years. Most of my bosses have been women and they always amaze me with their courage and determination to be the best they can be. They help mold and guide me and I am fortunate to have so many of them as mentors!
  7. People who love what they do, and you know who you are, rock! I love those who have the passion I do and are not afraid to show and grow it. They give everything to what they have and want to give even more because it is who they are!
  8. Writers are pretty incredible and inspiring. Communicating in the form of a pen and paper is up there for remarkable and I live to read and read about all of the amazing journeys and experiences others have.
  9. My kids have to be some of the biggest inspiration I have. It is amazing to see them grow, to be so excited about life and new adventures, to be willing to take risks, and to be so loving. Their innocence is contagious and their spirit lives inside me every day.
  10. I am not going to lie, Johnny Depp inspires me.

Here’s to being inspired each and every day!

AP

Midnight and Marie

Dear Dad:

This post might just make you cry. I say that because it makes me cry to write it. As you know all too well, two of the greatest people who have ever lived are “Midnight” and Marie (pronounced maw-ree), my grandparents and your parents. They were two of the coolest people I ever had the pleasure of spending time with and even though they lived just a short amount on this earth, their spirit will always be part of me.

So many memories flood me about them. First, there are the memories when Michele and I lived with them for a while. We were so young and I remember it being so much fun. Now that I have kids, I realize how they must have been worn out from it all, but they never once showed it. Grandma kept on as usual, which was a lot of fried cooking and then bingo, bingo, bingo. Grandpa was much of the same, working all day at Westvaco, bringing in his change for our bear bank as he came in, opening up a cold beer (and then two or three) and heading to the dock to fish, crab or catch whatever he could. Life should only be so pure and simple now.

I loved me some grandma. I am convinced, she gave me my incredibly free spirit, compassion and intense competitive spirit. She was a mean son of a bitch in the bingo hall. Her goal was to win, and to win big. And did we score from her win. Every toy I had, ever piece of fake jewelry I owned, EVERYTHING came from Bingo. I remember when she died going through her things, including the lamps made out of Barbie dolls, going “yep, that was a bingo treasure.” Her cooking still has a lasting impression on me. Paula Deen had nothing on her. A stick of butter and a tub of Crisco was a must have in every dish and she fried everything. I think she even fried fried food.

She taught me how to cook and it is no wonder that my first “show and tell” recipe was a grandma special:

STEP ONE: Go to through the backwoods to the Red and White.

STEP TWO: Go to aisle 10, frozen foods. Grab a pizza.

STEP THREE: Go back home and start the over for 375. Cook for 25 minutes. Ta-Dah! Pizza is ready.

I was for real when I turned this in as my favorite family recipe. I can thank Grandma for that (and my absolute love of Bingo).

Grandpa, aka “midnight” as he was called, taught me the total end of the spectrum. He taught me to curse, to smoke and to drink cold beer. Good thing I got rid of two of those habits quickly, but I blame my potty mouth on him. He was my inspiration for loving the creeks, pluff mud and good ol’ Lowcountry seafood. He took us fishing, shrimping, crabbing and more before any of it was cool. He loved the dock and I loved spending hours upon hours with him on it.

One of my other loves I picked up from them is the love of watching TV. They were TV junkies, even if it was black and white and only had three channels. I was addicted to the Price is Right at a young age, and will never forget the hours I would spend “spinning” in their yellow polyester chair treating it like the actual wheel you spun on TV. Every place in the living room had a value and I would cheer hard when my feet stopped at the mirror because it meant 100!

I loved Christmas with their color aluminum trees; loved birthdays at Shoney’s where you got a dollar for every year you were. I loved baths in the tub with Michele and our dolls, and the hours Marie would sit and brush my hair. I loved our toy bins on the porch and the swing in the big oak tree. I loved each and every minute I spent with the two of them.

It was sad to lose grandma at such a young age (I was 7) and then devastating to watch grandpa wither away when I was in middle school. Thank you for making me go to the nursing home all of those years and I only wish I had gone even more. I would have done anything to spend more time with them.

And even though they are gone, I still love to hear the stories. I love how much they loved you after they adopted you. I love how they worked and spent every penny they had to make sure you went to Porter/Porter Gaud and then USC. I love how they took a risk and bought a place in the Isle of Palms when there was no bridge and no other residents. I love how the pretty much adopted Jack and made him feel the love he so deserved. I love how you kept their house and allow us the chance to spend the rest of our lives there. I love how you take me and my family on the boat, in the same water ways they took you to experience some of the things that you experienced. I love Hamlin Creek and I love looking out and knowing that they are there with us and will always be with us. They are and will always be my Midnight and Marie.

Happy Memorial Day,

AP

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