Land-Warming BBQ!


I’ve learned many things from my parents over the years, one of which is how to throw a great party. It’s really pretty simple. All you need is a good spot, good friends, good food, and a little booze. Ever since we purchased our property in Bastrop people have been asking us, “When’s the party?!” Apparently we’ve developed a bit of a reputation.

Once we started looking at the calendar we realized that we had a limited number of weekends available. My mom had asked that we not double book with one of her gigs (both her reggae band and Hawaiian girl group have booked a number of gigs this spring). If you’re local, go check them out back-to-back on May 27th! Hear both Sister Jane and the Nani Wahinis at the Good Luck Grill in Manor, TX from 6:00 to 8:45 pm! 

Our upcoming trip to the UK was another big (but delightfully exciting) scheduling conflict. The only day we really had left happened to be our one-year wedding anniversary. Perfect!


Brandon set up what he likes to call “BBQ Stadium”, basically an overly elaborate cooking station and where Brandon is most likely to be found at a party. He doesn’t cook much on a day-to-day basis but really enjoys going all-out for a party. If you look closely, you’ll find two Coleman propane grills, a first aid kit, stick-in-the-ground beer holders, and two types of whiskey. This man comes prepared.

Putting sausage on the grill

We prepared BBQ (pork ribs, sausage, and brisket, all from Southside Market in Bastrop) and everyone else brought dishes to share. We ended up with an incredible spread. Alicia (shown below) made homemade pozole with hatch green chilis from a recent trip to New Mexico. My mom made her famous chocolate sheet cake. Brandon’s grandma brought his favorite pea salad. Yum! And PJ made homemade mini doughnuts! There were so many dishes on that table by mid-afternoon that I don’t even know who brought what. But it was all amazing. Pot luck party for the win!


We also brought in a keg of Stella Artois to keep the party well lubricated.

From left to right: Cory Nance, Tom Bond, and Eric Ott
From left to right: Tom Bond, Cory Nance, Skip Faulkner, and Dylan Dwinnell

We also brought some fun yard games (and Brandon’s grandma Nina brought even more!).

We had hula hoops, horseshoes, badmitton, and cornhole. Oh my!




Cory Nance and Andre Matthews


Tom Bond and Eric Ott

It was so much fun to finally share this place with all of our friends and family. Everyone kept talking about the beautiful oak trees. We love them too!

Myself, Nina, and my Mom (Franci)


The tequila came out around mid-afternoon. The partners in crime are all pictured below.

Left to right: Andre Matthews, my Dad (hidden behind Andre), Jerry Walsh, Lyse Moore, my Mom, Alicia Gill

It was such an excellent occasion to reconnect with friends we don’t see nearly often enough.

Left to right: Brandon, Ray Matthews, Tyler Smith


Far left group: Sharron Matthews, Dalton, Nina, and Jason. Far right group: Molly and Bob Ogarzoly and Robert Johnson. Center Group: Birger and my Dad.

The biggest hit of the day were probably the four-wheeler tours of the property. The front half of our land is accessible from the main road. The back half is across the creek and requires going over a low water crossing. You can make the crossing in a truck, Jeep, or SUV, but it’s much more fun on a four-wheeler. We brought ours and our friend James brought his. Throughout the afternoon Brandon gave driving lessons and let the partygoers loose on the back half of the property. Everyone had a blast.

Both of our moms went for a tour.


My mom (Franci)



Brandon’s mom (Carla) driving, her cousin Leah along for the ride


As well as Brandon’s grandma!

Brandon’s grandma (Donna Loomis)



A party isn’t complete with out music! Lucky for us, my parents happen to be friends with a number of wonderful musicians. We didn’t have power to hook up a PA but we had a couple of really great acoustic song circles throughout the day.

Alicia Gill and Jerry Walsh 
Jerry Walsh and Richard Parke
From Left to Right: James Connolly, Lyse Moore, Andre Matthews, Franci Jarrard





We got to visit with some of our oldest and dearest friends. We’ve been friends with Robert since high school. He went on a week-long sailing adventure with us in the San Juan Islands, came to visit us in Portland many times, and even came all the way to Oregon to help us unload the truck when we moved.


I met PJ in 7th grade when she asked to sit at my lunch table. She was the new kid at school and we’ve been friends ever since. She’s an incredibly talented artist and baker. For our wedding she made us a gorgeous three-tiered cake decorated with glitter and fresh flowers. And it tasted as good as it looked! Each layer was a different flavor!


Tyler and Bella brought their dogs Sunny and Cash to the party. I couldn’t get a good picture of the pups because they never stopped running! I think they had a great time exploring outside of the big city. We’ve also known Tyler since high school and he was our housemate when we lived in Austin. He’s been dating Bella for quite a while now and we absolutely love her!


Molly is my mom’s cousin and her husband Bob is the architect designing our house! These two are so much fun and we’ve had a blast working with Bob to design our new home.


Our friend Cory specifically asked that I share this photo of him and Brandon’s Grandma. Cory was one of Brandon’s roommates when I was in college and he still lived at the ranch in La Grange. Cory has always loved Brandon’s grandma. It’s hard not to. She’s an amazing lady.


I didn’t hear the joke but it looks like it was a good one!


Cory — probably reminiscing about his high school days playing football in Elgin.




He doesn’t look it with the clean-shaven face and short hair (both recent developments) but Eric Ott is still our favorite pirate!


Ray and Robert looking dapper. I think the new round frames make Robert look very intellectual. He looks like the college professor that you didn’t expect to show up to the kegger but turned out to be a ton of fun.


From left to right: Ray Matthews, myself, and Eric Ott (our favorite pirate)




The eternal battle between friends — Aggies vs. Longhorns. Ironically, neither of them graduated from either school. I suppose it’s just a football thing.


From this photo you would think these two were a couple!


Oh wait, nevermind. Cory just thought her hair looked tasty!


My friend PJ has always been beautiful and makes me look like I actually know what I’m doing with a camera. She humored me for a bit and posed for a few photos.


She looked great in Uncle Richard’s hat, but it’s his favorite and he soon wanted it back.



Isn’t she lovely! Someone should put this girl on television already!




And then she makes faces like this! Maybe she was getting tired of playing model for me.




When we sent out invitations to our land-warming BBQ we didn’t mention that it was also our first wedding anniversary. We’ve never been big on anniversary celebrations. We tend to do something simple, just the two of us. But that didn’t stop a number of our friends and family from catching on, after all, nearly everyone at this party was also at our wedding.

Bottles of bubbly were opened.



And many heartfelt toasts were made.




It really was a momentous occasion to celebrate. We’ve purchased the land we intend to make our home. We’re designing a beautiful and unique house with my wonderful Uncle Bob. And we’ve survived the first year of marriage without killing one another (all while living in a traveling house under 375 sq. feet!). In fact, we couldn’t be happier. Life is good.

Thank you so very much to everyone that came out to celebrate. We love you all! And to everyone that wasn’t able to make it or was inadvertently left off the guest list (we’re so very sorry about that), this is most definitely not the last party we’ll throw at our new place!



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