I have had quite a fun series of celebrations over the past few months.
First, it was Chinese New Year! Ish. So I went on a dumpling date with my friend Leesie.
We initially got to be friends by having the weirdly uncommon thing in common of both having Taiwanese stepmothers and having spent time in Taiwan (Leesie actually lived there and taught English, I just visited for a bit).
Okay, above are veggie dumplings.
Then scallion cakes (YUM)
Soup dumplings (with broth sealed inside, OMGSOGOOD)
Annnnd a TOWER of cold sesame noodles. We doused these with a sesame seed hot pepper oil that was on the side. Yum!
Another celebration! One of my best kiddo friends turned four! Her grandma decorated these UH-MAZING cakes for her. She took a cake decorating class when her kiddos were young which is such a deeply cool thing for a parent to do.
Parents may recognize these television characters portrayed on the cakes? I do not.
A birthday gathering for a bigger human… my friend Shaylen turned 30! We had a lil potluck (her birthday is the day after Valentine’s day… thus the cute plates 😀 )
As you’ll see above, dips and cheese and carbs were well represented.
Shay made these little sweet potato stacks with craisins and goat cheese and nuts- SO good.
My contribution was birthday cake (note that is a comical novelty sized huge wine bottle next to it. Use the chair for contextual clues about the size of everything.)
When I asked Shay what she looked for in a cake she said moist and chocolatey. Which quickly led me to this Smitten Kitchen recipe. Yes, another friend’s birthday, another Smitten Kitchen cake. That blog has never steered me wrong- her recipes are reliably delicious and error proof.
This cake was essentially intense, dense, moist chocolate crumbs barely held together as if by magic. Plus marshmallow frosting. AGH SO GOOD.
Another thing to celebrate… my dear friend Myra is currently gestating a sweet little girl! We held a baby shower for her and her hus Alex. I offered to take some pictures of them in the ADORABLE Air BnB her friend Whit rented for the party, to remember this time in their lives. Obvi, Myra is a super cute pregnant person!
Also, renting an Air BnB for a party is a seriously brilliant idea if you have a small home. Whit rented this spot and it had a gorgeous porch, fully equipped kitchen for prepping food, a lovely open living area for the party, two bathrooms, etc. One of the bathrooms had a gorgeous clawfoot tub and I did briefly consider just leaving the party for a bit to take a wonderful bath. I resisted.
So Whit bought some gorgeous cupcakes from some local artisinal whatsit baker. They were amazing. She also made a bean dip.
And then I went NUTS at the cheese counter at Trader Joe’s (what else is new)
Aren’t those labels so so cute?! They were a Christmas gift from Santa 🙂
The cheese were all pasteurized so the pregnant lady could eat them and they were accessorized with baguette, gluten free crackers, dried apricots, pistachios, and little date-nut bites.
And then I also made these cookies. Mmmm. We had a lot of gluten free options because Tiff, one of the co-hostesses, can’t do the gluten. As you can see, it’s not a real hardship when options like this are available.
The party involved a silly game, lots of painfully cute baby gifts… and me briefly yet intensely feeling sorry for myself for being the last single person left on Earth and questioning if I am going to live my life alone. Classic. I got over it.
One last shot of the happy couple. Yay babies!
They thanked me with this absurdly cute thank you note!
Another thing to celebrate was a randomly very generous tax refund (?!) It’ll never happen again (I overpaid for Obamacare cause I overestimated what my income would be, I paid off a lot of student loan interest, etc.) but it was nice to have a little extra spending $
First (heavily supplemented by some store credit courtesy of my mom at Nordstrom) I got a new hippiefied duvet cover. LOVE IT.
I also got a new microwave, which I realized was a super good idea because:
- I got my old one my junior year of college… in 2008
- I got it from my dad, who had had it for God knows how long
- Guaranteed my dad got it at a thrift shop (or, seriously, wouldn’t be surprised if he had gotten it on the side of the road. Graham loves him a bargain)
- Plus it had started being REALLY loud and had a piece that seemed to be sticking out on the side?!
I also got a new stainless steel skillet because Teflon freaks me out and my old pan was starting to peel.
And I also spent a bit of a refund to go out for an AMAZEBALLS Italian dinner at, I’m saying it, MY FAVORITE RESTAURANT, Gocciolina.
I arranged to meet that dude I sometimes hang out with after work on a Friday night at around 6:30. I got there a bit early to put in my name and they claimed the wait was an hour to an hour and a half… butttt that we could wait at their lounge next door and have a drink and apps. NO PROBLEM, FAM! (Also it was like a half hour wait, tops)
The lounge had the promised drinks, along with housemade potato chips (swoon) and the goofy pasta sculpture you see in the background there.
For apps we ordered the chickpeas. They were perfectly textured (clearly made from dried, no canned) and came with a wealth of olives, olive oil, tomatoes… and some melty perfect other things. Seriously, they might’ve been my favorite item of the evening (and this is in spite of the fact that EVERYTHING WAS REAL GOOD).
We also, I think, actually ordered something else with anchovies… but what they brought us were these anchovy wrapped olives. OH HEY SALT YOU ARE GREAT.
Washed down my tasty apps with some yummy red wine (a montepulciano blend)
So Gocciolina is really designed so you can eat a meal in the Italian fashion… antipasti, pasta, and entree. We didn’t quite do that but we did do two apps, two entrees, and a pasta.
The bloke got a steak, because he was excited to see a fancy grass fed steak on a menu for $15 (smaller portions= smaller prices! This meal wasn’t *cheap*, but it was freaking incredible for what you paid)
He was very very happy with this.
And I got the North Carolina grunt (guys why did no one tell me there was a fish called grunt?! So silly! It was a white fish, kinda halibut-esque), which came with a lemon butter caper sauce (MY HEART), and black rice.
And then we split the spicy seafood pasta which was just… just… incredible. Just SO MUCH FLAVOR condensed into that sauce. And perfectly al dente pasta. Ugh. Incredible.
We were quite satisfied indeed, so no dessert. The bloke got limoncello (BARF- it’s so funny, I’m a sugar addict but hate sweet drinks). I got a decaf espresso.
What have y’all been celebrating lately?