Sloan’s 4th Birthday Party

It was a classic family birthday celebration on Saturday afternoon. Sidney threw a Trolls-themed birthday party for Sloan a few days after her actual date of birth. In addition to the four of us, my parents and my sister’s family joined us.

A look at the birthday party set up at our house before guests arrived.

Any decent birthday party has delicious food. Despite the event taking place on Washington soil, we made South Carolina cuisine. Chicken bog and pulled pork highlighted the menu. Let me just say this: No one went home hungry.

Sloan’s birthday party food spread…chicken bog, cole slaw, pulled pork.

After dinner we took some time to let our stomachs settle. The adults watched the NCAA Tournament while the kids played with some of the gifts that Sloan received from Sid’s family.

Sloan and her cousins enjoying food at the birthday party.

It was then time for cake! The bakery at Fred Meyer made it for us and it turned out great. For about the 14th time since Wednesday, we sang “happy birthday” to Sloan. Sid then cut the cake and I assumed ice cream-scooping duty.

Sloan with her Trolls birthday cake. Thanks, Fred Meyer!

Next up was presents. We gathered in the living room and Sloan started to open her gifts. Luckily she had help from her cousins, Mik and Johnny, because (surprise, surprise) she was spoiled and had more than enough packages to open. Some of the highlights included an OMG doll, Lite-Brite set, and a Trolls necklace kit.

Sloan opening a gift with some help from her cousin, Mikayla.

The grand finale was next. We hauled out the Poppy piñata and set it up in our kitchen. Mind you, piñatas are a little different these days. Instead of whacking it with a bat, children take turns pulling strings that hang from the piñata. A “magic” string then rips open the bottom and the contents spill out. Sloan, Mik, and Johnny each took several rounds pulling strings until Mik found the lucky one that made it rain on our kitchen floor. All three children filled plastic bags with candy.

Pinata time!!

After the last piece of candy was picked from the floor it wasn’t like everyone bolted for the door. We all hung out and talked while the kids extended their sugar high initially induced by the cake and ice cream with their piñata candy. Sloan’s first birthday party in the Inland Northwest was a smashing success. Major props to Sid for organizing it and thanks to the people who attended. Sloan is a lucky and very happy 4-year-old. Don’t Blink.

Chicken Bog

Last night, Sidney made her famous chicken bog.

Chicken what?!

It became obvious once I posted an image of our dinner to social media that chicken bog is a very regionalized dish. The photo was enough for my social media audience to Google the dish AND ask for the recipe.

This was the Instagram post that had a lot of my followers curious.

I should have expected the questions. Before I came to Myrtle Beach, I had absolutely no idea what it was either. But within the first couple months of moving here, our office had a department lunch and our interim University Communication vice president, Martha Hunn, an Horry County native, made chicken bog. From that point on, I was hooked.

This is the big batch of Chicken Bog that Martha made for our department lunch five years ago.

Chicken bog is rice, chicken, and sausage cooked together in a big pot. The taste is delicious and the texture perfect. It is firmly on my short list of favorite foods. Interestingly, although few people outside of this region of the state know about it, chicken bog has a rich history. In fact, the “bog” legend goes back far enough that students at CCU did an in depth project on it. You won’t waste your time if you watch this video our department did on their efforts. Called “the most famous, unknown dish of South Carolina,” I feel fortunate that it became known to me.

Somehow, chicken bog also became known to Paula Deen. Sidney follows her recipe and it literally is the best thing ever. Filling and flavorful, it tastes even better the next day. And believe me, no matter how good it is, you will still have leftovers the next day – a pot makes a lot!

Chicken bog that I had at a local restaurant with some other Southern staples

There is no other dish I would recommend someone try for the first time than chicken bog. If you want to bring in a taste of northeastern South Carolina into your kitchen while endearing yourself to your spouse at the same time, make plans to cook some bog. Don’t Blink.

Fourth Of July Thursday Rundown

A happy holiday weekend to you all! It is my hope that most of you will enjoy a vacation day tomorrow. What better way to kick off your elongated weekend than to read my west coast Thursday Rundown? Here we go!

Southern Cuisine Out West – Although Sidney and I are enjoying our time out west, it doesn’t mean we have abandoned all Southern traditions. Sidney (with help from my mom) prepared two South Carolina delicacies for my family to enjoy. Last night she made chicken bog which was greeted by rave reviews from my brother and sister. Today she and my mom joined forces to prepare boiled peanuts. I can’t wait to see the reaction from Glen and Miranda once they try them. Will the texture and non-traditional peanut properties turn them off? Or will they love them as much as me? We shall see!

The delicious southern treats we enjoyed over the past few days. Up top is chicken bog, below are boiled peanuts, and the photo on the right is my mom by the crock pot.

The delicious southern treats we enjoyed over the past few days. Up top is chicken bog, below is a container of boiled peanuts, and the photo on the right is my mom by the crock pot.

Beautiful, Beautiful Baby – I can’t get enough of my niece. Mikayla has grown so much since I last saw her but she is ADORABLE. She smiles, claps her hands, sits up, and reaches out for me. She is so precious. I have seen her just about every day since I have been here and she definitely has my heart. She is coming over again this evening and I can’t wait to hold her!

Some of my favorite shots of Mikayla this weekend.

Some of my favorite shots of Mikayla this weekend.

Wedding Bells – Tomorrow Sidney and I will head to Seattle with my brother as a chauffer. During the day I will show Sid the sights of the Emerald City. Come night we will be attending a wedding for my very good friend and mentor, Kenny. A subject of a blog post several months ago, Kenny will marry his boyfriend, Steve, at 7 p.m. tomorrow. Sidney and I are excited for the ceremony and the start of their life together.

Kenny and I on the sidelines in Clemson's Memorial Stadium in October of 2014.

Kenny and I on the sidelines in Clemson’s Memorial Stadium in October of 2014.

Fourth of July Plans – After the wedding festivities, we will head back in the eastern direction and travel to Walla Walla, Washington. I grew up making regular trips to the “town so nice they named it twice” because my parents grew up there and all of their extended family still enjoy residency in one of the best wine towns you will ever visit. On tap will be fun in the pool at my uncle’s, a stroll at the city park’s Fourth of July celebration, and then a BBQ that night with my dad’s family. It will be a fabulous and eventful holiday.

Me in Walla Walla at our family Fourth of July celebration in 2013.

Me in Walla Walla at our family Fourth of July celebration in 2013.

Pop-Its – With a fireworks ban here in Spokane, what I have pictured below accounts for the only pyrotechnics you will find in Spokane (fireworks are legal in Walla Walla, however). Sidney bought a few boxes of Pop-Its at Walgreens and we played with them the other night. Sid was fascinated that I would snap them with my fingers, thinking it would hurt. While I have no problem popping them with my hands, I did not accept a challenge from a Periscope user. The person told me to detonate them with my teeth…no thank you.

Sid holding the Pop-Its.

Sid holding the Pop-Its.


Happy Fourth of July, everyone! I wish you a wonderful patriotic holiday. If you wish to receive my holiday text message and aren’t on my regular distribution list, please contact me. God bless America. Don’t Blink.

A Southern Lunch at Work

Today everyone in the University Communication office at CCU was treated to a wonderful treat for lunch. To coincide with our Vice President releasing the Communication and Marketing Strategic Plan, my co-workers and I were invited to pick up a copy of the report and then indulge in a truly Southern lunch.

Our Director of News and Public Affairs, Martha Hunn, completely outdid herself and prepared a feast consisting of chicken bog, sweet potatoes, collared greens, and cornbread. When I say feast I mean it in every sense of the word. Martha made enough food to feed probably the whole university rather than just a single department. Well, perhaps I shouldn’t have put “probably” in that last sentence because it is a fact. As the lunch started to wind down we had numerous people from different departments come in to fill up a plate with some warm food. By the time they had all dished up we still had leftovers!

Now I know the question on most of your minds right now is “What is chicken bog?” Great question! To tell you the truth, I had no idea in the world what it was until I went for my onsite interview at CCU in March. No other than Martha told me about the magical combination of ingredients while we ate lunch that day. When I was hired and arrived on campus I kept expressing to her how much I wanted to try chicken bog. She continually assured me that she would make some for me and today was the day.

This is the big batch of Chicken Bog that Martha made today.

This is the big batch of Chicken Bog that Martha made today.

Chicken bog is a rice dish mixed with chicken, sausage, and spices. It is not just a Southern dish but a South Carolina dish. If you talk to Martha she will tell you exactly how it should be prepared. The chicken needs to be cooked a certain way and for a certain time before you add your rice. Not all “bogs” are created equal…except for people like me. My eyes light up when I hear about a dish that combines chicken, sausage, and rice so you can bet I will scarf down any version that ends up in front of me.

Take a look at this amazing spread!

Take a look at this amazing spread!

I enjoyed the cornbread and the collared greens (first time ever having them) but I was blown away by the sweet potatoes and chicken bog. The potatoes had a sweet pecan top layer that tasted like candy and gave new meaning to “sweet” potatoes. The smooth and flavorful potatoes would have tasted just splendidly without the pecan layer but the combination of those two things made for a dynamite dish.

This is the plate (or should I say plates?) that I dished up for myself.

This is the plate (or should I say plates?) that I dished up for myself.

The chicken bog proved to be everything and more that I had anticipated over the past several months. For such a seemingly simple dish it tasted so good. In the past I have had jambalaya and I would say that the taste was similar. But the jambalaya was nowhere near the quality of Martha’s chicken bog. It had such a perfect consistency and a taste that wasn’t overpowering yet pleasant in a way that you kept wanting to take bite after bite.

I am happy to say that I will be able to take bite after bite for a little while longer. I was fortunate enough to take home a plate. I am already looking forward to eating it. All I can say is that I hope we start releasing strategic plans more often than just once a year. Don’t Blink.