December 8, 2011

A nighttime conversation

A friend and I have been teaching our almost 3-yr-olds preschool in our homes. It's been awesome. It's little more than structured playtime, but every so often we see a light bulb go on, so we press forward. Lessons are based on one letter per day.

Usually on the nights before school mornings, we try to prep Tessa. She loves school, so the prep is totally enjoyable, like last night's conversation:

Me: Tessa, guess what tomorrow is!
Tessa: [eyes widening and grin slowly uncurling] Schoooool??
Me: Yes! And do you know what letter you're learning tomorrow? "R"!
Tessa: R. rrrr...rrrrr...
Me: That's right. "R" makes the "rrr" sound. What word starts with "R"?
Tessa: rrrrrr.......rrrrrr..........rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.....rrrrrrrrrrockettes!

November 27, 2011

On the cooling rack: Baby Shower Menu #1

We spent the summer in Utah for Ted's internship, then returned to NC where I instantly became deeply entrenched in food planning/buying/prepping.

This first shower was put on by a committee of five friends because when we heard our friend was pregnant, we all insisted to help. I was first to offer, however, so I was in charge of whatever I wanted, which of course was food. But to just divvy out the house, decorations, drinks, and photographer to other people and get their help with the food anyway? Couldn't have been better. Here's the outcome.

The lemonade stand and handmade wreath:

The table:
The food:
Caprese Paninis on Sourdough or Nine Grain
Taste test:
Bell Pepper Slaw:
Mushroom Risotto in the cutest little individual cups ever:
Fruit skewers:

Various finger foods included the Most Incredible Lemon Bars Ever (not the real name, but should be), Oreo balls (Marianne's specialty), finger sandwiches, and sliced s'mores (the pregnant lady had been craving them).

Basically we had dessert first, in the middle, and at the end, a Mille Crepe Cake:
This thing was fabulous. Twenty crepes, each layered with a thin spread of raspberry pastry cream lightened with whipped cream, bruleed on top, and served with fresh berries and lemon curd. For a first time and for something off the beaten path (you know I'm a chocolate girl), this cake was to die for. I saw it on an episode of "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" on the food network and knew I could come pretty close to replicating it. Crispy sugary top, creamy and crepe-y layers, hints of raspberry and lemon, oh heaven.

Action shot:

I've gotta get a brulee torch that means business. I made two of these cakes for the number of guests we had, and by the time I was done burning all the sugar, my hands HURT. That button you have to press the whole time is a doozy. And it was a good thing I brought extra butane.

You can't see it in this shot, but my first two fingers on my right hand are bandaged up from slicing them open on my fancy mandoline for the bell pepper slaw. Word to the wise - when the instructions say to use the safety thinger dinger, use it. I bled all over Annee's kitchen.

Guest of honor:
Ha! Nice placement of the crib mattress, Syphus. Gee whiz. Anyway, Melissa looked radiant her whole pregnancy and since I take forever to get blog posts up these days, her baby is now two months old. I know, I'm so embarrassed.

Creation: Crocheted Owl Pillow

One of my high school friends just happened to move right into my ward here in NC. Since we were in high school together, she has traveled and lived around the world and has turned into quite the seamstress, hostess, decorator, organizer, and I could go on. We've gone to so many of the same functions, and I've noticed she's given a handmade something-or-other to every person. Coming from someone who's trying to convert from giving just diapers and boobie pads (and let's be honest, those are necessary), I've been amazed.

So I noticed she's gotten into owls lately, and she loves making pillows, so I found a pattern on Joann's site and went from 20 pieces to this:

I dropped it off at her house while she was doing an 18 mile run.ON her birthday! Gee, not feeling inadequate at all. Anyway, she's fabulous, talented, and totally humble about it. Happy Birthday Annee!

Here's a link to her blog: Made on Maple

Creation: Crocheted Newsie Cap

My friend had her baby and named him Hank. Come on - I HAD to make this kind of cap:

I thought it was so teensy, but I took it over there and his little head was swimming in it. However, it's been a few months and his head is just about big enough for these cold months. He's a stylin' little kid.

November 6, 2011

On the cooling rack: Birthday cake

I've seen a few ice cream brands come out with a "birthday cake" flavor that's always some sweet cream cake batter vanilla tasting thing with gaudy-colored sprinkles and chalky chunks of Crisco frosting. Excuse me while I barf. This is my version of a birthday cake:

Four layers of chocolate cake layered with fresh raspberry filling and topped with chocolate buttercream and a semisweet chocolate ganache. This thing was TALL - about 9" - and oh so good. The different languages were a nod to uncles' and grandpa's mission locations. I didn't have my usual baking tools since this was at my sister-in-law's house, so please excuse the white chocolate writing that looked a little sad. Dean, the birthday boy, didn't seem to mind.

Grandma couldn't take it anymore:

Okay, okay, I'll clean him up...

Creation: Crocheted Baby Blanket

I really need to take more pictures of the stuff I make, and I should do that before I give them away. I actually did remember to throw this on the bed before folding it up to give to one of my best friends for her 4th baby. I was pretty proud of it. I found the main pattern in a generic stitch book, but made it nice and big (don't you hate baby blankets that are too small? Maybe I'm tainted because my babies are too big...) and then finished it with a border of my own design. Don't ask me what the pattern is. I made this back in June and can't remember for the life of me how I did it.

Anyway, my friend has since had her baby girl and she named her Brooke Allison. I still can't get over it.

A Scalpel Saved Our Marriage

I know it's been a while. We've been up to a lot. Some of which is explained below.

Ah, weddings. You plan and plan, and for a while you seem to know more about mail-order napkins than your fiance's favorite color. The big day comes and hopefully it's filled with family, happiness, music, good wishes, and shaking your butt to "Whatta Man" at your wedding reception.

On to the honeymoon, perhaps to some place you've never been before, and the first night you're sleeping together (and, ahem, actually sleeping) you start to notice little things about the other person's night habits. The one thing I noticed during that time was that my shiny new spouse had issues with sleeping. Meh, no matter. We were in love and snuggly and starting a new life together, right? Nothing was going to disrupt our honeymoon phase that was destined to last until the Second Coming. Except that every subsequent night I began to wonder how long this earth life was actually going to last because Ted sounded like he was about to die multiple deaths.

I very sweetly mentioned this issue to him a few times, but he dismissed it. His reasoning was that if no one (parents, roommates, mission companions, Salma Hayek) had ever told him before that he was holding his breath and gagging during the night, it must not be true and I must be imagining things. Yes, this was MY problem, people.

Until I got pregnant. Then it was the world's problem. I got more and more frustrated about my lack of sleep in the first place, then combined with not being able to go back to sleep because of a certain spouse's snoring, and don't get me started on when baby #1 and then baby #2 actually got here and let's just say buh-bye to sleep altogether. I finally convinced him at one point to just "get checked out" and to his credit, he did, and he didn't even grumble about it. He had to spend the night at a sleep center hooked up to all sorts of who-knows-what, and the diagnosis: normal people's brains "wake up" about 5x per hour. Not a full wake-up, just normal patterns as your brain goes through its sleeping cycles. Ted's brain was waking up 36 times. Per hour. That's waking up more than once every other minute!! Basically, it was one of the worst cases of sleep apnea they'd ever seen. So they prescribed a CPAP. It was heaven for me, hell for him. He'd rip it off subconsciously in the middle of the night, so we were back to the same ol' antics and square one.

It was so bad during pregnancy #2 and post-baby #2 that Ted just took to sleeping in our guest bed every night. Despite the feeling that we were roommates and not lovers (kinky), it worked wonders with catching up on sleep. I got a full night (well, once Dean started sleeping through the night, which didn't happen until a few months ago) and he didn't wake up worrying if I was starting my day off ticked because I hadn't gotten enough winks.

Time to try something else.

A few months ago Ted went in for a consultation about his tonsils. They were massive. He was scheduled for a tonsillectomy on Sept 8, so my very pregnant friend came to babysit while I went to the hospital with Ted. The surgery went fine, but the recovery was awful for him. I had to do some major stocking up on ice cream. He winced over every bite. The doctor said it was going to "hurt like hell", and he wasn't kidding. Ted just plain ol' didn't want to bother eating because it hurt so bad, so he lost 10 pounds. I think I found them.

A month later, we went on a little weekend trip to the Outer Banks, a popular NC vacation spot and one of the points of interest for Hurricane Irene back in August (the 27th to be exact. I remember because I helped throw a baby shower that day -oh, for that very pregnant friend mentioned above- and my hair was a mess). So there we were, glowing in the aftermath of a BYU win over the Utah State Aggies - still trying to figure out how they did it - and I realized I hadn't heard Ted snore once the night before. See, we hadn't been sleeping in the same bed for months, more than a year, actually, so I'd forgotten about the various noises. Before I said anything, though, and jinxed it, I thought I'd sleep through another night. Same result. Could it be????

Fast forward to a couple weeks ago, which was also a couple weeks after this little trip. Dean, the worst sleeping child we've ever had, was up to his same old tricks and it was driving us batty, so Ted took matters into his own hands and just stuck him in the office/sewing/guest room, no discussion, to just let him cry and reduce our frustration. Which means Ted had nowhere to sleep except....our bed.

And I'm happy to report that the only thing that bothers me now is how small a queen is when there's another body in it. But no noises - no gagging, no breath-holding, no choking, not even a snore. Just nice, even, deeeeeep sleep breathing.... zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Thank you a million times over, Dr Snip-its at Duke Hospital. You have no idea what you've done for us.

Oh, I forgot to mention that the main reason his tonsils were massive in the first place was because when we were engaged, he um, contracted mono from me. What can I say? I'm a giver.

September 4, 2011

Gotta Have It!

I was scanning this week's North Carolina grocery store ad, and there's a section called "Everyday Essentials." First of all, I get a kick out of the fact that Kingsford Charcoal (for all that NC BBQ) and cartons of Marlboro cigarettes are advertised in that section. I guess if you're addicted to nicotine, yes, those are essential. But charcoal? Really? An "Everyday" essential?? Do people grill every day? Or even every week? I'm happy if I just get grilled food once a season...

But then, in the same section, these were advertised:

Don't believe me?

Circular Page Image

Every. Day.

According to my mom, these are "vitamins", so of course we'd need to take a few of them daily, right?

August 17, 2011


Here's the face of a man who is starting the 26th grade with a great job offer from a great law firm in Salt Lake City.

Congratulations, babycakes. You've earned high marks.

Tessa is pretty sure that translates into more candy for her.

Posted by Picasa

May 11, 2011

Happy Easter 2011

This Easter was graced with flamingos instead of baby chicks. Easiest dress ever to make (and wear). The hairpiece is handmade, but was outsourced.

There was a swarm/herd/cache/litter/gaggle/den/covey/army/colony/flock/school/rabble/company of caterpillars that the girls could NOT keep their little paws away from. Poor critters. Notice Tessa's bare feet? We bought a new pair of shoes (sandals) a size bigger than she normally wears to accommodate her "tall" foot problem and the girl made it to the car, but not out of it. So she went through all of church with no shoes. Lucky girl.

It was such a lovely day, full of the things that Easter should be full of: music, hallelujahs, gratitude, and lemon cupcakes with phyllo nests and Cadbury eggs. Hope yours was grand as well!

May 1, 2011

Late Night Boy Toy

No, not THAT kind of boy toy.. perverts. I made this little monster toy for a shower a while back, and it all happened so fast I forgot to post it. The basketball in the monster's hand is NOT some sort of applique gimmick that places like Carter's and Circo insist on employing. Both parents are legitimately awesome basketball players, and the dad just graduated from UNC. You like how I slipped Duke Blue in there? heh. heh.

This is unfortunately the only picture I took of the Little Monster. Like I said, it happened pretty quickly and I finished it in the wee hours of the morning. Not exactly prime photo-op time. So I'm sad you can't see it, but my favorite part of this little guy is that snaggletooth. I did a satin stitch into a long triangle, but I don't have a fancy machine, so while I was holding the fabric with one hand, I had to perfectly move my stitch width selector with the other. I was sweating legitimate bullets as the rest of the face had already been embroidered and satin-stitched. But it came out perfect. Yay for me. Oh yeah, and yay for little C. He must have been a tiny little runt, because in that picture, Mom is 38 weeks pregnant. Some people!

"Just something I whipped up"

Yeah right. This dress took me 2 1/2 tries. I love the outcome, however. I had to make the sleeve ruffles a little wider since my daughter's arms are, well, a little wider and I wasn't adding the long sleeves that go right underneath.

Thanks to The Train to Crazy for making the pattern free, thanks to Annee for hosting sewing soirees at her house so that when I screw up (and I've done it every time) there are people to sympathize and encourage me to fix it instead of scrapping it and throwing up my arms in angst, and thanks to Tessa for making it cute.

I have so much to learn, but thankfully, my kid's not picky (yet). Though more often than not these days, I'll be getting ready to put clothes on her and she'll say, "Dress?" I'll respond, "You want to wear a dress?" and in a voice that sounds consigned to a mediocre fate, she'll answer, "okaaay...." It just occurred to me that she's probably saying "dress" the verb and not "dress" the noun. Duh!

April 13, 2011

He gets it from me

I took a bunch of pictures in a row of Dean while he was sitting on Daddy's lap, and after uploading them, I almost trashed this one until I remembered one I took of myself on a definite "bed head" morning. The poor kid never had any hope. He even got my double chin!! hahahahaha

March 21, 2011

On the cooling rack: Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

We had a celebration at church last week. I signed up to make a cake, thinking I'd just do something I always do. But then I was flipping through a library book and saw a cake with piped henna on it, and wanted to do something similar, though my piping skills are minimal at best. Like, I know how to put a parchment cone together and squeeze frosting out of it.

After a lot of time and a LOT of swearing, this was the result:

Not perfect, but a good jumping off point. The best part was the taste. Oh heavens....devilishly good. Four layers of dense chocolate cake with peanut butter and milk chocolate chips, filled with creamy peanut butter straight up, then frosted with my favorite semisweet chocolate buttercream, and the piped peacock is in a whipped peanut butter frosting.

Pass the milk, please.

Creation: Bellbottom Pants

We've been getting groovy over here. Remember that story I told long ago about choosing pajama pants as my first ever sewing project, having them turn out completely unwearable, throwing them out, then being intimidated by sewing machines for years?

Well, I'm back.

I have conquered my nemesis, thanks to Dana's tutorial. I'll have to tweak a couple things here and there next time, but overall, I love the outcome. I'll let you judge for yourselves.

I'm most proud of the perfect lining up of the fabric pattern. It's 100% polyester, baby. Dreamy to work with, and screaming to be made into granny style bellbottoms. She looks adorable in them.

Yeah, baby, YEAH!!

February 18, 2011

Big Girl/Little Girl Birthday Tea Party

I've been building up for this one. Years ago I started a teacup and saucer collection. Thanks to ebay and Anthropologie, it got big enough to host a full party.

Well, it wasn't a full party, as in "number of guests". A full party for me constitutes attendance in the dozens. :) This wasn't that kind of party. We could only fit so many people at the big girl table, and only 4 at the little girl table, so what we lacked in numbers, we made up for in decorations and food.

Tessa turned 2 last week, and I turned....into an old hag. Time to celebrate!

My friend Melissa was at our house (as she often is, bless her soul) when I pulled the teacup boxes out of storage to show off and clean up for the day. She helped me unwrap them and I think I heard her exclaim more than once how it felt like Christmas morning. I told her my plan and she immediately asked if she could decorate. Since I have absolutely no talent in that arena, I gave her full discretion. So she turned our living room into a dainty little wonderland.

We were particularly fond of the party favors for the little girls. M&Ms and felt cupcake stickers with monogrammed notepads? Come on.... The big girl favors were even tastier though - homemade toffee (recipe and photos coming!) bagged and sealed with a shabby chic fridge magnet.

The food:
  • Chocolate cinnamon tea cakes
  • To-die-for (seriously) lemon bars (or triangles, in this case)

  • Chocolate-dipped animal crackers with peppermint
  • Chocolate almond mousse balls
  • Masala naan with garlic hummus
  • Cucumber lemon water (it's so refreshing! try it!) for those who didn't prefer tea

  • Fruit and cream puff kebabs with caramel sauce
  • Blueberry bran muffins with lemon curd (I had to try to be healthy somewhere)

  • Curry and garlic chicken salad in mini croissants
  • Wheat rounds with pesto, tomato and parmesan
  • Individual baked pepper jack and cheddar macaroni and cheese
  • Bittersweet chocolate torte with chocolate ganache and raspberry sauce

Yes, there was a lot of chocolate, but I didn't hear anyone complaining.

I see the notepads were a big hit.

And the birthday girl looked smashing in her ruffles and pearls.

Recently I reunited with an old friend from high school. She moved right into our ward, we saw each other on their first Sunday here, and we promptly freaked out. We've been in every made-up club together ever since. She and her twin girls came, and gave this sweet little dress to Tessa:

I don't have a decent picture of the adorable zippered (with an inside pocket!) clutch she made for me (which happily contained....more chocolate), but I've already used it. And I have two kids in diapers, so small bags aren't my thing currently. But it's awesome.

Happy Birthday to us! And thanks so much to Melissa for making two girls' dreams come true!

February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day 2011

Ted was very sentimental in his annual Valentine's card to me. He was sweet in his words and his gift-giving, watching me unwrap things I absolutely wanted (a candy mold! Barefoot Contessa's newest cookbook! An etsy crochet pattern!), and I gave him fabulous food in his belly (can't argue with Chicken & Dumplings and a Bittersweet Chocolate Torte), a gorgeous new orchid plant, and these:

Can I be any more direct?

I know my mother-in-law reads this blog, but I'm okay with it. Becky, if you don't know me by now...

February 1, 2011

Crippling Weaknesses

I think one of my first ever blog posts had this same title, where I touted the many attributes of Diet Coke, Peanut M&Ms, and bacon. While I still swoon at the thought of any of those three things (though Diet Cherry Pepsi has eked out to first place in the artificially sweetened carbonated caffeinated beverage category), it's time to get a little more serious and pay tribute to things that can love me back.

Over Christmas, Ted and I tried hard to get together with the two men you see pictured below. For good reason. Jamal (name has been changed) and Adler (name has not been changed, but also goes by "Uncle Ads") became our go-to Settlers companions because they are as addicted to it as we are.

Let me back up. Settlers of Catan, particularly the Cities & Knights version, is how Ted and I got back together after a messy breakup and period of silence. Our first game we played with two other guys was quite awkward, but we all loved to just play, so we kept getting together. Then Ted and I had to sit next to each other because we were the only people laughing at each other's dumb (read: racial and/or inappropriate) jokes. Then we became good friends. Then lovers...

Wait. This isn't a Valentine's post. Sheesh.

Anyway, we played with all sorts of people, including other married people - some with kids, some without. We loved that, but one couple moved away, and then the other, but the wife of that couple didn't love it the way the rest of us did anyway. So we started placing an ad in the classifieds* for people who had a sickness and therefore had to play at the very least, once a week (hopefully more). We found them. And it turns out Uncle Ads worked with Ted and Jamal bakes incredible cookies, so it was a win-win-win-win. We had Dinner & Settlers often, sometimes twice a week. I referred to my husband and the two single awesome guys as "my boys", and cooked accordingly. We ate well, we played lots, and the nights were filled with loads of laughter and some of the best intellectual and thought-provoking conversations of my life. These guys are A-1 in my book.

Then we moved. And God found it in His infinite mercy to bless us with people here who are as addicted as we are. Don't think I don't thank Him in my prayers for that.

I flew back to CA a few months later to visit and help my mom pack up for her move. Visiting "my boys" was high on my priority list, so we cooked up a pound of bacon and had a jolly ol' time, though we missed Ted for that game.

To reprise our gaming over Christmas was its own gift. Jamal just got married last October to a fabulous girl, so I spent 90% of the game time engaged in conversation with her and was happy to feel like we all fit together well. And I still managed to win. Neener.

When Jamal was single, I loved going to his apartment because he was the ultimate bachelor. Maybe I shouldn't say "ultimate". He didn't have a "man cave" and his place was clean and hobbit-feet-smelling-free. But the reason I use the word "ultimate" is because of his kitchen, particularly his fridge. It's no secret I love my M&MS (peanut), and in this, Jamal is my soulmate. One night, while Ted and I were there, he ushered me into his kitchen, prepped me for the opening of his fridge door, and watched my reaction once my eyes beheld its contents: not just M&Ms, but Snickers and Reese's and sodas and Grasshopper cookies and chocolate chips for his awesome cookies and more and more. Then he opened his freezer: tiny cups of Haagen Dazs in all flavors and Haagen Dazs bars and more chocolate chips and Ben & Jerry's and and and and ohhhhhh. I made an audible gasp while he grinned at me and briefly considered breaking off my engagement to Ted and throwing myself at this man's feet. He is a sweets FIEND.

Naturally, while at their house over the holidays, I stole into his kitchen to look into his fridge to see if getting married had changed his ways. I saw milk. And cheese. And vegetables. And a couple containers with leftovers. And some chicken or something. What the hell? I expressed my disappointment, but then his lovely (and skinny, which I can't understand given the state of things) wife opened their cupboard and I saw THIS.

You can't see the pillar of light that was shining upon it because my flash was on, but it was certainly there. Look at that thing! A stack of Kit-Kats. Literal BAGS - a pound each - of chocolate-covered peanuts, almonds, cashews, pecans. Gummi rings. Gummi worms. Yogurt raisins and pretzels. Lindt truffles. M&Ms, of course. Licorice, mints, candy bars, oh my! I had to ask his wife, "Did you marry Willy Wonka??"

There you have it. Three more crippling weaknesses. Settlers, my boys, and candy. Yes, chocolate DOES love me back. It loves me on my buns, my boobs, my thighs... It loves me all over.

*I wasn't quite that desperate, but I wouldn't put it past me.


You know that person who can eat whatever, brush whenever, floss never, yet every dentist visit yields the same phrase: "no cavities here!"? I've never been that person.

Until today!

About a year ago, I went in with a major toothache that ended up in a root canal. Plus 8 cavities. EIGHT. I was a twice-daily brusher, occasionally more often than that. I flossed seldom, but I was very good with my fingernails. I couldn't believe it - who gets eight cavities between dentist visits?? While the hygienist was scraping away, she asked about my flossing habits. I sheepishly admitted I didn't floss as much as I should. I could tell it was a common tale for her to hear - it didn't even phase her. But to cover her bases, she gave me a line she probably gives everyone who comes in with bleeding gums and missing teeth (no, I'm not at that stage). She said, "The more you do at home, the less we have to do here, and it's cheaper."

Cheaper??!? Well, why didn't you SAY SO??? No one had ever put it into bargain terms for me before, and Frugalese is a language I speak. From that day I decided I was going to floss daily. It's taken me how long to get that conviction? You'd think from all the nasty pictures and real-life ugly mouths I've seen, I'd be scared into the best dental hygiene possible, but it's easy to get lazy.

Today marks the second time that I've gone in for a cleaning and 1) the hygienist had very little to scrape, and 2) the dentist looked at x-rays, poked around in my mouth and said, "no cavities here!" It made me feel like this:

So if you're someone who dreads the dentist because you'll need two hands to count the number of cavities you'll have, come and join me on my bandwagon. I've been playing a different and awesome tune.

January 29, 2011

Northern Exposure

The Monday after we arrived in Utah for the Christmas holidays, 16 inches of snow plummeted to the ground. It was Dean's first experience with so much white stuff, so I bundled him up and turned him into my kind of snow angel.

He had a gay ol' time, though I worried about his cold tolerance. I shouldn't have - once I got him back inside and undressed, I realized he was sweating up a storm in that thing. I need one in my size.

January 28, 2011

Best Early Birthday Present EVER

I got a message on my phone weeks ago from someone I didn't know but whose area code was unmistakably from Utah. She said I was to reserve a particular weekend in January to stay in town, prepare our guest room, and don't ask questions. I was perplexed, intrigued. But with planning to leave for Christmas and everything that went with that, it slipped my mind. I figured that with no more notice or clues, it probably wouldn't end up being anything.

I think I mentioned it to Ted during our 3 weeks in Utah, but I'm not sure.

Sleep deprivation does many awful things to one's brain and body.

Then after we were back, I got a letter with no return address, postmarked Salt Lake City. In it was the same instruction, all typed out.

So mysterious!!!

As the day approached (and I told the news to Ted), we tried to figure out just who it could be. It had to be someone who knows I love (LOVE) surprises, but who would also have the gall to just tell me to be ready for, well, any ol' shmo.

But shmoes they were not! At the stroke of midnight Thursday night, there was a knock on my door and I opened it to behold....


I didn't get a picture of their arrival because I was too busy picking up my jaw off the floor. My bestest college friends all left their husbands and multiple children with babysitters and carpools and pre-made meals so they could hop on a couple of planes and fly all day to see me. I'm still shocked over it all.

Like all bestest college friends, we didn't have to do much to have a grand weekend. We ordered pizza, watched The Notebook, played Speed Scrabble and Mexican Train, made deep-dish cookies and grilled cheese sandwiches. And we laughed and laughed and laughed!

Amid the cacophony, we did manage to get out of the house for a little sightseeing, hence the Duke Chapel in the background and the grand doors below. There was someone practicing a most incredible organ in the Chapel while we were there, and Shannon, a rather fab organist herself, was in heaven. I, however, was in heaven the whole weekend and still haven't been brought down.

Shan, Val, Ker-dog, thank you so much for your many sacrifices to fly across the country to grant me a most fabulous few days. I heart you guys!

The Cooling Rack

Baked goods are only half the story...