First, let me just say…….I have had the pleasure of spending time with my Grandma Carlin on a regular basis for over a year now. She is the strongest, smartest, most amazing woman! Grandma’s kindness and love still shines through daily. It has been such a life changing experience to talk with her and personally be in the moment with her over this past year. This past weekend, we celebrated her 90th birthday. That’s right, I said 90th! Huelene (Alexander) Carlin was born on February 25, 1927.
Decidedly nervous, I approached this endeavor with every bit of professionalism I could muster. I have prepared food for many family/friend gatherings and done so with great success. But, for this special day and this special woman in my life, I needed things to be perfect! Or as perfect as they could be! The initial count for people who would attend was around 50. Then great minds got to thinking and realized that this would be an event that many more would come to celebrate! So, our estimated attendance would be 150 people. Grandma Carlin wanted things simple. Appetizers and snacks for an afternoon gathering so that family and friends could visit and enjoy themselves over small plates, and later ice cream cake!!
I talked with Grandma in the weeks before her party about the menu. She worries so much about things being too much work for others. In the end, she told me, “Whatever you want to make will be fine. I love everything you fix.” This was quite a vote of confidence given that Grandma has nearly a century of experience with all things cooking, food, and family. You just can’t help but love this woman!!
So, I started researching foods and what it would take to possibly feed 150 people. I came up with a very simple menu and took some help from the store on some premade items. Then, I planned to make each item my own by adding some love in the way of homemade sauces and dips, fresh herbs, and used my own cooking methods. My thoughts then went to plating and presentation, and of course, some help. My mother, graciously accepted the spot as my singular kitchen hand. In the end, I prepared three hot appetizers: garlic honey barbeque meatballs, herbed butter basted mini quiche, and bruschetta. Of course, I also planned for cheese, olives, crackers, and multiple crudité platters.
Though I was planning for a crowd, I made sure that there were things that I know Grandma Carlin loves…..sharp cheddar, large black olives, cherry tomatoes, and quiche. Love takes many different shapes, sizes, and forms….people show love in multiple different ways. My way, at least on this day was to make sure my “table runneth over” with simple, but classic food that the guest of honor would enjoy and be proud of.
Although, my time was spent cooking, plating, and serving; I snapped a few pictures for you to enjoy. I also borrowed some of the family pics for your viewing pleasure. What a fabulous day! Family and friends came together in masses to celebrate another milestone in Grandma Carlin’s life!
I want to say thank you to all the family and friends who helped with this event. Thank you to the Pineville Christian Church family, who graciously allowed me to dominate their kitchen for the day, and providing a perfect setting for this birthday celebration. I want to say thank you to Grandma Carlin’s children for giving me the opportunity to be present and actively participate in this celebration!! But, most of all…….. I want to say thank you to my beautiful Grandma, Huelene Carlin for having confidence in me and caring for me as much as I do her! It was ultimately my pleasure to be included in the planning, preparation, and execution of such a wonderful birthday celebration of Grandma’s 90th year!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY GRANDMA! LOVE YOU!