I love my friend Mary. We’ve known each other since we were 9 and have enough history and secrets between us that we’re like sisters. Her husband and kids are like our family and we love seeing them, however our lives are all busy we don’t get together as often as we’d like. Last night was one of those rare evenings that make me really appreciate the people in my life. Doug, Mary’s husband, is an Italian chef so anytime we can get him to cook for us is a treat. Mary called and told us to bring the wine and French bread and that we’d be snacking our way through dinner. In other words, we’d not have a big, formal meal. Cool with us since the main reason for getting together is to hang out. Of course, Doug pulls out all the stops and prepares a fantastic feast. First there was the spinach artichoke dip with tortillas. Not that crap you get at TGIFridays, but a delicious, creamy concoction with just enough garlic for flavor. Mary made an olive/feta cheese bread that we dipped in olive oil and it was the perfect combination of savory and saltiness that really didn’t need any oil. “Dinner” was grilled fresh salmon, twice-baked potatoes, fried shrimp, lemon pasta with tomatoes, chicken with feta cheese, French bread and a lovely tureen of goat cheese, fresh basil, tomatoes and onions. All of this was served family style so we could have bites of everything. We paired this with some lovely Pinot Noir Steve and I brought. Mary and Doug’s youngest, Madeline, had a friend over and the girls amused themselves by creating a party for us to attend. Once dinner was over, we were given invitations, then invited downstairs for the fun. We were greeted by “confetti” which consisted of loops used for weaving potholders, ushered to our seats, and offered snacks of mixed nuts and suckers. Like we needed any food. It was really cute and funny. Then we went upstairs and played Pass The Trash, the only mindless card game we could play while drinking, and laughed until our sides hurt. It’s nights like than when I really wonder how I lived without Mary in my life for so many years. We lost touch after college. I’m just glad I have her now. Her friendship and family are a real treasure for me.