Wednesday, October 30, 2013

One Kitchen, Many Hearts - Real Life Edition

Have you ever given your home address out to a bunch of random strangers you met on the internet so that they could send you stuff?
Probably not.
So then, you probably haven't said to those same random strangers, with whom you now speak every single day, "Hey, if you're ever in my neck of the woods, come stay with me!"
Well, I have, and I'm all the better for it.

Look at us - we don't look AT ALL like internet crazies.
Totes safe.
Sidebar -- I am a huge HUUUUUUUUGE fan of Alton Brown.  Husband and I have used many of his recipes and techniques over the years; in fact, Mr. Brown's corned beef recipe is the only one I will use.  We adored Good Eats and mourned its end.
As such, I read the announcement of the Edible Inevitable Tour with utter giddiness, and I was delighted that he made a pass through the East Valley.
Not being alone in my adoration, Beka immediately checked the tour schedule and, realizing that there would NOT be a stop in the Pacific Northwest, made plans to come down and go to the show with me.
Timing being what it was, her trip overlapped with her being assigned my name for our One Kitchen, Many Hearts gift swap.  So basically, this trip was Meant to Be.
Before I get back on track: y'all. If Alton Brown is coming to your town, GO TO THE SHOW.  It was hilarious and fun and oh my gosh pray that someone in the front row is late.

A little teaser - you need to go to the show to see what happens.

On to the goods, as it were.
Most importantly, I am the new proud momma of an actually rectangular 9 x 13" pan for marshmallowing.  Previously, I had been making my mallows in my Pyrex pan, which is awesome.  But if you have a Pyrex pan, you know that the edges are rounded.  No big deal for casserole dishes, etc., but when you want to make something that is a "perfect" cube, those rounded edges make for some waste.
OK, so I used those "butt" pieces to take selfies with marshmallow mustaches and to "quality control" the hell out of every batch.  BUT STILL.  This new pan, which can also double (I guess...sigh...if I have to....) as a roasting pan will add at least five or six more mallows to every batch.
So far, they've been used to make two new fabulous mallows flavors.  I don't have a picture of those mallows, though, because, um, well.... I ate them.

This is the last of the expresso-honey mallows we made...
they are my favorite flavor to date, and incredible in coffee.
If that weren't enough (it seriously would have been - I am already planning like ten more flavors), Beka took me shopping.  I remember back in the day BC (Before Child) when I'd watch What Not to Wear and swear that I'd never become "that mom" - you know the one: the mom who puts herself last and then forgets how to shop and what looks good on her.
Guess what I turned into.
(Spoiler alert: "that mom" - I turned into "that mom")
When I attempt to shop for items for myself that are not running gear, I usually end up feeling guilty about buying something when I work from home and can basically wear yoga pants if I want to, getting frustrated when I don't find anything that works (I have a standing rule that I will not purchase anything unless I love it), giving up on fashion altogether, and using the money to buy something for Her Royal Highness, who, because she insists on growing constantly, is always in need of some item or other.  When shopping with Beka, I was not allowed to 1) have hangups about buying something for myself, 2) have limited time (yes, I still feel guilty about spending time in a store when I could be home with HRH), or 3) give up easily.
Shockingly, it's easier to follow the rules when someone holds you accountable for them.
Beka has a fantastic sense of style and an eye for what will work on a person.  We had planned to have a shopping day already, but the big surprise was that she bought this houndstooth dress while we were out.

She also tutored me in such remedial courses as Why We Buy Nude Shoes 102 and How to Overcome Your Fear of Jewelry 130.  Thankfully, I didn't need to go back to Handbags Are Your Friend 080 and nabbed the above teal number without too much assistance, although goading may have been involved.
All in all, I bought two dresses, two shirts, two pairs of shoes, a jacket, a handbag, sunglasses, a necklace, and a bracelet.  I love them all.  I got nothing for HRH.  I felt no guilt.  It was glorious.

Honestly, though, the Most Wonderful Gift that Beka brought me, which can't be packaged up, was her company.  It's been a bit of a stressful fall at work, and the respite from Groundhog Day, the Sequel, and the hilarity that ensued over the long weekend, was exactly what I needed.

Of course, after Beka's plane landed, I immediately took her to one of my favorite local breweries, San Tan Brewing Company, where we snapped a terribly blurry but hilarious selfie.

I swear it was just one beer.
OK.  Maybe Two.
 We drank plenty of wine.

We mustache you for another glass of wine.
Please don't shave it for later.
We also had plenty of beer.

We bought the same shirt on purpose.

I look like A DORK.
We made and/or ate OMGSOMUCHFOOD.

Southern-style seafood risotto, collards, and blackened (sort of) shrimp
Brunch: Bloody Mary and soft fried eggs over risotto cakes
with asparagus and duck fat potatoes
Smoked pork burger at Angel's Trumpet Ale House
It was seriously The Best Weekend.

Now, not everyone got to hang for a full weekend for a gift exchange, but I can't wait for you to see what I sent to Kisrten (second spoiler alert - marshmallows from my new pan were involved).
Make sure to check out the goods in this Free For All Stuff Whatever You Can Into the Box theme.  After all, the holidays are coming, and you never know when or where inspiration will strike.
Beka/Kvetchin' Kitchen
Jeanne/Inside NanaBread's Head
Kat/Tenaciously Yours,
Kirsten/Comfortably Domestic
Mads/La Petite Pancake
Megan/Wanna Be a Country Cleaver
Then get out there and see if you can't ship off a Package of Surprise Fun to someone to see how your day can be made by making someone else's.


  1. I'm voting for your weekend together as "Best OKMH Exchange Ever" and wishing they could ALL be in person. Such a fabulous post, and so much fun to see you two living it up together. Love it, love it, love it!

    1. Them all being in person would be so much fun I might explode!

  2. Yaaaaaaaayyyy!! I LOVE the styled pose out front - you look just as posh and sophisticated as you are on the inside. Cannot wait to have the same splurge fun with the other girls, but this weekend may have been the highlight of my year. And obviously so relieved that neither of us was secretly a murderer or was super weird, because then it would have been awkward to come back to the group ;-P

    1. Totally. A murderer in the bunch would make for some awkward conversations.
      Thank you so so so much again - it was the highlight of my year, too. I can't even put into words the greatness that was that weekend! And I just adore that dress and can't wait to wear it again!

  3. You look stunning in that dress! That weekend sounds like the most fun shopping, sightseeing, beer-drinking, Alton Brown-ing trip of all time! I'm glad you ladies got to hang.

    1. Thanks, Mads! It was super duper fun. We needed a full week to eat all the things we wanted to eat, though. Duly noted.

  4. If the compound is even half as fun as the weekend that you two had together, then it will be possibly the best weekend of my life. Those snaps of you and Beka together make me so immeasurably happy.


    1. I cannot imagine that it will be filled with anything but hilarity and hijinks.