Posted by: Lauren | August 13, 2010


In July, we were so blessed to celebrate my Grandpa S. and Grandma O.’s 80th birthdays (Grandpa is my Dad’s dad, Grandma is my mom’s mom).

These were beautiful moments and gifts for all of us in the family to savor and remember for a lifetime. At both parties (Grandpa’s in Illinois, Gma’s in South Carolina), we all shared what my grandparents meant to us, what we love about them, and their legacies. It was truly something special.

Here is my Grandpa and Grandma S. a.k.a. my Italian grandparents:


And my Grandma and Grandpa O., a.k.a. my Irish grandparents:


Aren’t they all so cute?!

When we headed down to South Carolina just hours after my Grandpa S.’s birthday party (we left at 3 am), my grandparents didn’t know it. My Grandma’s birthday isn’t until October, but many months ago my mom, aunts, and uncle starting planning a big surprise party in July when all the kids could make it. So all of us came into town and kept surprising them-eventually we told them it was a surprise “family reunion.” Neither of them knew there was an 80th birthday celebration happening until the moment they got to the party on Saturday. It was such a blast!

I’ll back up though…

On Monday Katie, Sam, Joe and I arrived in Charlotte, NC to stay a night with Aunt Sharon and Uncle Richard, so Katie could meet up with a friend the next morning before all of us headed to S.C.


I love these two!!! In case you don’t know, my Aunt Sharon is THE Aunt Sharon who comments on every single one of my blog posts and just pours out love and encouragement to everyone.

They cooked up a feast and had a huge spread of apps as soon as we got there.


So, so good! Filet, grilled asparagus and corn, roasted potatoes, and marinated cucumbers, onions, and tomatoes.

And this work of art for dessert:


Pavlova (like a giant meringue), with sweet, delicious berries, and later topped with whipped cream. Seriously, I must recreate this. The The pavlova had a little crispiness to the crust, with this soft, pillowy marshmallow center. This dessert was so perfectly sweet, light, full of different textures, and should be on your list of things to make asap.

See what I mean?



Pavlova with Berries (Sharon’s recipe found here)

  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 cup superfine (castor) sugar (Sharon just uses regular sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon corn starch

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, or like Sharon does, a silpat. If using parchment paper, draw a 7 in (in diameter) circle on top of the paper.

In the bowl of your electric mixer, beat the egg whites with the whisk attachment on medium-high speed until they form soft peaks. Add the sugar a tablespoon at a time and continue to beat until stiff peaks form. Sprinkle the vinegar and corn starch over the top and fold in with a spatula. 

Gently spread the meringue in the circle you drew, (or just estimate if using a silpat). Smooth in the edges, and make sure the edges are slightly thicker than the center.

Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the outside is dry and takes on a pale cream color. Turn the oven off, leave the door ajar, and let the meringue cool completely in the oven. (The outside of the meringue will feel firm to the touch, but the inside will be soft and pillowly like marshmallows. PERFECTION!

Sharon waits until serving to top each piece of the pavolva with berries and reddi whip so that if there are leftovers, they’ll keep longer. ENJOY!!!

Sharona and Uncle Ri Ri, thank you guys so much again for an amazing night in your home and for doing all of this for us in conjunction with throwing a big party for Gma!

Tuesday we headed two hours south to Gville and surprised Grandma and Grandpa at Uncle Charlie and Aunt Eileen’s wooded paradise aka home for a bbq. 


Then I got to meet this baby doll! My cousin Jay and Elisabeth’s baby, Caroline. So precious!


IMG_3195 IMG_3178 IMG_3180 IMG_3181 IMG_3184 IMG_3186 IMG_3187 IMG_3189 IMG_3194 IMG_1211

My uncle Charlie made baby C this cradle! Isn’t it beautiful?


Ok, well that takes care of the first two days. More of the trip to follow!

“This is the day the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 119:24





  1. This is so nice to see.Love the pictures.I need photography lessons from you.Love you,Sheila

    • Thanks She She!! hah I don’t know what I’m doing with that thing 99.9% of the time, but thank you! Love you!

  2. Amen!!! I still “rejoice and am glad in it”……so glad you were such a HUGE part of the celebration!!! What a love-fest, right???? How are you EVEN doing??? What are you EVEN doing??? Look at the cute little tongue on baby Caroline! What a little lovie! Uncle Charlie and his masterful workwork was such a highlight. Lauren, I’m hearing a calling for you to something that involves descriptions of food, love and celebrations. It’s the blog for now, but “just sayin’….” Please come back for a Fall Pavlova….promise to make homemade whipped cream this time. Love and miss you so much!

    • In my haste, I typed “workwork” instead of ‘woodwork’ and left out the word “do” in part of that. Just had to correct myself…..just sayin’…….know you know what I mean. I need to slow down a bit and savor the moment and not responds so hastily….miss you tons!

    • Sharon, you’re so sweet, I always appreciate when you come up with ideas for me. Fo’ real. Katie and I made pavlova tonight! We texted you but you were probably sweeepin. Love you so much! hahaha and you make me smile about the typos you corrected.

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