Archive for the ‘holidays’ Category

empire state of mind

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

On Saturday morning, Crockett and I flew to NYC. Yesterday was Crockett’s birthday, and we decided on a trip to celebrate.

Well, theoretically we flew in on Saturday morning. In practice, we flew on Saturday afternoon. We were supposed to land at 2:30 and have plenty of leisurely NY time, but instead we had one plane with hydraulic failure (experienced only on the ground so more irritating than terrifying) and one that was missing the drink cart, and somehow, we ended up landing after 7 pm. Crockett accurately pointed out that we could have had drinks in NY if they’d just taken the damn plane off the ground, but whatever. Thanks, United.

We did make it, though!!

The night before we left, we ran into someone at The Empire who said he made the Carnegie Deli his very first stop in NYC at any given time for the Reuben. Since Crockett loves a Reuben, and the deli was walking distance from our hotel, we hit it up when we were starving, exhausted, and ready to enter the New York state of mind.

The Reuben was literally the biggest sandwich I’d ever seen in my life. Do you SEE Crockett’s face, above? This is is ‘what the hell have I gotten myself into’ face. I had a bite (you know, to help out), and I wasn’t super impressed. However, I hate corned beef, so don’t trust me.

I decided to eat cheesecake. With cherries.

What. I was on vacation. It was good! Except, I don’t really like cheesecake either. I just ate it because I felt like I was in NY and I should and literally nothing else on the deli menu appealed to me. Airplane stomach, I guess. I actually threw in the towel pretty quick after this, but I did carry the rest around in my purse for the rest of the night before it found a home in our hotel fridge.

This is where Crockett gave up. I have to tell you, NY threw us a curveball with this restaurant. We thought we were prepared, stomach-ly, but we absolutely were not.

We walked this off, heading down to Times Square. My purse still smells a little bit like corned beef, too.

This is going to sound like a segueway, but it’s not, I promise. Our seatmate on our flight was a fellow named Thomas Maloney, a fact I remember clearly because he looked like Santa dressed as a cowboy, he had a million and one awesome stories, and he gave Crockett a bright yellow business card that said ‘Thomas Maloney, Capitalist’ on it. He was fantastic, and he was headed to New York because his son, Toby, had just opened a new bar. We were impressed, thinking this kid was making a play for success in the big big city, but no. The younger Maloney is a wildly successful bar-maker dude, and his newest bar is called Pouring Ribbons. We didn’t know about all the amazing press Pouring Ribbons was getting, or that they had the American Bartender of the Year slinging drinks, and we hopped on the subway (whoo hoo, my FAV part of NY) and headed down to the East Village to check it out.

It’s halfway up an empty street, above a liquor store, and when we showed up there was a line of people outside the door and a cranky bouncer. We waited a few minutes, asked if Thomas Maloney Capitalist was still there (he’d told us he was going to stop by Saturday night), found out he was gone, and got sent up the stairs. I don’t know if it was the name dropping or not. Ok, fine, I don’t think it had anything to do with it, I think it was just our turn, but I like to think that we got special treatment. I’m nerdy like that.

You guys, the food on this trip was delicious, but the cocktails? They were consistently AMAZING, and the ones at Pouring Ribbons were nothing but indicative of what was to come.

I had three.

The one above was a Death and Taxes, a gin and grapefruit drink with brandy and… I don’t even know. Magic.

The tall goofy one here is a One Flight Up – you can’t really tell, but there’s a layer of Campari at the bottom. I love the crazy sweet bitter thing Campari has going on – as Crockett said, it’s so gross but SO GOOD. (I think he actually said funnier things than that, but I was on my second drink after a very long day, people. Think of something hilarious and then credit him with it.)

That’s a rye drink of Crockett’s being stirred in the background in a beaker, btw. The actual mixology process here was fascinating. If we hadn’t been making friends, we probably would have just watched our bartender Troy work all night. We were making friends, though – this guy was here for a bartending contest! Turns out he didn’t win, but he was cool. It was easier to chat people up in NY than I expected, y’all.

I

At about 1:30, we headed back to the hotel. I’d super casually mentioned that we were in NY for Crockett’s bday when we were checking in, and we were upgraded to a deluxe studio on the 19th floor. Thanks, Hudson Hotel! This was the view from one of our three (!!) windows. I pictured a room with one window overlooking a brick wall, so this was basically the best thing ever.

‘Studio’ meant we had two chairs and a couch, as well as a bed. I took full advantage of the couch the second we walked in.

The interior of the hotel is kind of trippy. You take this green escalator up to a foyer that has a clear roof, covered with ivy. There’s an enclosed but outdoor bar behind the desk, and a big library that’s also a bar off to one side.

The art in the library is all enormous photographs of cows wearing hats. COWS. Wearing HATS. New York is so cool.

Our room really was amazing. This photo was taken from the bed at some point in the late afternoon. The other two windows are to my right, and they both had sills deep enough to sit on. The siding made it feel cozy, like a boat, except without the sea sickness. Best of all worlds.

This is the door, the bed area, and Crockett, looking like he’s trying to hold me up with a remote control. He confiscated it from me because I was manically changing the channels, trying to figure out what show is best to watch on two TVs simultaneously.

This was the terrace below one of our windows. The hotel has a 15th floor bar, but it’s closed for renovations – I suspect that’s what we were looking at. Our room would have been a whole different thing if this terrace had been open. Louder and more full of booze, for sure.

This is another secret terrace that we didn’t find until we were on our way out. Cute, right?? It was only like 50 degrees, though, so we didn’t really feel like chilling (ha) out there.

So, first night in NY? Fab. Hotel? Fab. And it only got better from there.

what better time

Friday, December 23rd, 2011

It’s a snow day.

It’s Christmas cookie day.

And it’s I-miss-you-guys day.

I know you probably thought I was off hanging out with James Franco at Yale. Or that’s where I was pretending I was, to avoid a nervous breakdown. One of those two things is true.

One semester of grad school to go.

IMG 2787

I did say snow day, right?

IMG 2788

This is the tunnel for the puppies, taken from floor level. After I let the girls out this morning, I told Crockett that the snow was more than a puppy deep, and he laughed, so I said ‘how would you like it if you were in snow over your head?’ And then he told me that that’s a serious fear he faces while snowboarding.

Then I felt bad.

I knew it was cookie day, and we got up pretty late, so our breakfast was both lunchy and not particularly sugary.

IMG 2785

I made tuna fish salad with celery and dried fruit while Crockett shoveled the front walk.

IMG 2780

Tuna is Cloey’s favorite food.

(Don’t worry – I rinsed the lid so she wouldn’t lick it, and that’s where the sharp edges were. Her tongue and gums are intact.)

IMG 2781

Maida’s technique was a little … different.

Faceplant.

IMG 2783

This is the face Crockett made when he came in and saw the girls eating tuna out of cans on the floor.

Then? Cookies!!

IMG 2789

And Community.

Did anyone else hear that there was a flash mob in New York today to stop it from being cancelled? I totally would have gone to that.

I have no great reason for making so many cookies. I’m taking dessert to two events – and while I am the official dessert bringer to both, I suspect that others will be all ‘oh well I just brought along some cookies’ too. Six kinds of cookies is too many cookies.

What I’m trying to say is that it’s a cookie world, and we’re just living in it.

IMG 2790

Almond cookies. These are basically just egg whites, sugar and almond paste.

I bought almond paste from Amazon.

I have enough almond paste for everyone.

IMG 2792

Dorie Greenspan’s Salt and Pepper Cocoa Shortbread.

People, these were neither salty nor peppery. I made some orange ganache and turned them into sandwich cookies.

Also, the dating on these cookies is sporadic because apparently when I don’t have to go to school I have no idea what day it is. I genuinely believed tomorrow was Christmas Eve until yesterday.

IMG 2791

Gluten free vanilla bean shortbread. Crockett’s sister in law has a gluten allergy, so I thought I’d bring these to her house on Christmas.

Because even though I’m not in charge of dessert, I thought hey, I’ll just bring some cookies.

I’m one of those.

IMG 2793

A very small batch of coconut macaroons, some with chocolate and some without. These were an afterthought because I ended up with more whites than yolks at the end of the day, and I already had almond cookies.

And also because we used to make these at the bakery I worked at and they were my favorite. I always forgot they were my favorite, but they always were – you know what I mean?

IMG 2794

Eggnog sandwich cookies. They were supposed to be Brandied Eggnog Sandwich cookies, but who the hell has brandy? I have weird drinks – I do. I have sherry. And port. And also Frangelico although I’ve had it for literally a decade which WOW why do I still have it? But I don’t have brandy. Or rum, because, you know – a week of seasickness in the Virgin Islands can create some bad rum associations.

IMG 2795

And my absolute favorite – lemon fennel pretzels, from the book The Good Cookie.

These are the weirdest cookies.

I love them.

And I love you.

Merry Christmas Eve eve eve!

(So totally a thing.)

 

 

good freaking point

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

This morning, while I was at school waiting for a class to start, I read an article called What We Eat While We Wait for Thanksgiving over at The Kitchn.

Then I went grocery shopping.

(Ok – first I waited for my classes to end. And I actually had to go to the store anyway. But for the sake of this narrative, let’s pretend I read the article and immediately jaunted off to the market, ok?)

IMG 2766

I absolutely love fall food. I love squash and pumpkin and apples and sweet potatoes. To put a finer point on it: I love Thanksgiving food.

Turkey? Yes. Brussels sprouts? Yes. Sweet potato casserole? Yes.

Cranberry sauce?

Fuck. Yes.

It’s not Thanksgiving yet, and I’ve already been perusing recipes for a Thanksgiving cranberry sauce.

Then I read that article, and Costco had 3 pound bags of fresh cranberries for $4.99, and I felt like I was hit over the head by a culinary anvil.

I CAN HAVE CRANBERRY SAUCE NOW.

We fill certain foods away in certain slots, and for me cranberry sauce never made it out of it’s little niche – until today. I came home, I threw 4 cups of the cranberries into a pot with 1/4 cup each of sugar and orange juice and 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and I let it bubble away while I toasted a piece of bread, spread it with goat cheese, and heated some boxed butternut squash soup.

IMG 2767

It was Thanksgiving in my mouth. And there’s more in my fridge.

I’m glad I finally woke up.

What foods do you love but wait to eat?

bye-bye beach

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

It’s Tuesday.

    These pictures are from last Wednesday, because last Wednesday is that last time I had internet access.

    That’s how the Upper Peninsula of Michigan rolls.

    There are four things one can do while on vacation without violating Emma’s Law of Vacay.

    • Eat.
    • Rest (this includes sleeping at night, napping during the day, and laying around staring at the water).
    • Talk (loved ones, strangers, everyone in between – go for it).
    • Read.

    On Wednesday I had a day packed full of all of the above. Every single relative of Crockett’s, on meeting me, shoved books into my hands. I left the house last week with three, read two in the airports and planes, and arrived home with 10 – the original three, two from his grandparents, one from his dad, two from his uncle, and two from his aunt.

    That’s a lotta books.

    Oh, I forgot something you’re allowed to do on vacation: CELEBRATE! Crockett has two nieces and three nephews, and two of the five have the same birthday. (Is this a really number heavy post? It’s all those books.)

    When we visited the Escanaba park, I zoomed over to the stand I’d seen while running the day before.

    Gram’s Pasties in the Park.

    PASTIES in the PARK, people.

    This? This is a pasty. Pasties are all over the damn place in Michigan. Like, ALL over. I actually knew what one was, theoretically. My understanding was that pasties were essentially meat turnovers for British working people – an old school Lunchable, basically. A traditional Cornish pasty is made from beef, swede (a sweet root), potatoes, and onions. In the UP, the swede is replaced by rutabaga, and you can order your pasty with or without said rutabaga.

    Everyone said use a LOT of ketchup…

    And then sat around watching me take a bite.

    I didn’t adore it. It was a tasty vehicle for the ketchup, but that’s about it. However, the local experts told me that it wasn’t a good sample – I really needed to wait until the church ladies did their thing. Hopefully when that happens, Crockett’s grandma (behind me offering lots of advice on the eating) will mail me one?

    Fortunately we had pizza:

    (Domino’s Pizza started in Michigan, so this totally counts as eating local).

    I had a slice of buffalo chicken pizza that may have permanently altered how I think about Dominos. It was that good, people.

    Also? Cake:

    I didn’t get a picture before it was sliced, but since it was for a birthday boy and a birthday girl who were three years apart in age, they went with the adorable and always relevant surfing Mickey and Minnie. So cute. Soooo much frosting.

    After dinner there was a free concert in the park. Every Wednesday the town band does what, based on my experience, seems to be whole bunch of awesome cover medleys.

    Escanaba is a happening town full of happening people.

    After the show, we headed back to our beachside motel to get ready for an early start on Thurs – the start of Reunion 2.0.

     

     

    beachy keen

    Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

    It’s a hard life, here at the beach. There are so many questions that need answering.

    Does Crockett have enough time to finish his sandwich before his scheduled nap?

    Should I focus on my lunch…

    or on the view?

    Should I make a run for it before this bee dive-bombs me (as he’s clearly considering)?

    Is the water more gorgeous, or the sky? (Does little Jack, sitting on the edge of the water, have questions like this?)

    Is a water trampoline safer than a regular one?

    What if it’s waaaaaay out there?

    Is there something about the beach that turns normally mature adult brothers into gladiators?

    Will I ever get in the water?

    Or will I just keep following the wildlife around?

    And most importantly: burger or brat?

    Fortunately there’s no question here. A scoop of everything, please.

    road trip yo

    Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

    Just in time for my next vacation (Michigan for a whole big Crockett family hoedown), I uploaded the pictures from my last vacation.

    This was our route:
    Thursday – Drive like hell. Stop in St. Louis. You can see from the picture above that we totes made it.

    Somewhere in the middle of Kansas is where I started smelling this whole mess, but somewhere outside of St. Louis is where we discovered it. (Our rear seat heater melted Crockett’s backpack. It was a whole big thing. Thanks, Audi!)

    In St. Louis Crockett was pissed about the backpack thing and I was mofo hungry. We were in an Eastern suburb of the city on a Thursday night and I really wanted BBQ, so I tracked down this 17th Street Barbeque place online.

    I was both thrilled to be there and exhausted to the point of ridiculousness.

    It was about 9 when we got there, and they officially closed at 10.

    They were not thrilled to have us.

    You know that feeling? When your server just wishes you’d get the hell out already? We sat in the bar, and there were other people there, but the staff were emptying ketchup bottles in plain view and asking ‘anything else’ every second.

    They corned their own beef, though, and made a damn good Reuben. Plus, I had my first hushpuppy and found it fabulous. It was totally worth the server hating us.

    Friday – We chose not to take the more direct route to our end destination of Buffalo. Instead, we headed a little south and carried on east until we arrived in …

    central Kentucky! (Every mile or so I said ‘but BABE, it’s so GREEN’ and Crockett said ‘awww honey’ in that I-sometimes-forget-you-grew-up-in-a-quasi-desert voice.)

    Why central Kentucky?

    So we could visit someone?

    Well, sort of. We were visiting the home of Woodford Reserve.

    See, they make something like 98% of all bourbon in that part of KY. (It’s not technically bourbon if it’s not made in America.) Our original plan was to do at least part of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, but we underestimated how long it would take us to get the hell out of St. Louis in the morning.

    We chose Woodford because it was the only tour that charged ($5) and we figured that meant it had to be awesome.

    It was.

    The distillery is a whole bunch of buildings that are all over 100 years old, but the distillery building is the oldest – it was built in 1838 and I want to live there like you can’t even know.

    This was my favorite part. While these look like little train tracks, they’re actually barrel tracks. As in, the barrels are delivered up the hill and rolled down to the distillery on the tracks. This tourist lady was standing right in the middle of them and I secretly hoped a barrel would come flying down and she’d have to dive out of the way.

    Sometimes I’m a bad person.

    Inside the distillery was a whole bunch of stuff being distilled. Obviously. There was yeast and stuff in here, I think.

    I was far more interested in the building.

    How much do I want this to be my great room ceiling?

    Hell, how much do I want a great room?

    That’s not to say there wasn’t bourbon, though.

    There was bourbon forevah.

    Crockett could look but he couldn’t touch.

    I was mostly picturing this big copper still thingy in my new stone great room.

    After the tour there was dessert for Crockett…

    and dessert for me. Pecan bourbon balls.

    You could buy them in the gift shop, but they had a tray for us to munch on while we sipped our drinks. Crockett drank my drink and I ate his (and everyone else’s) bourbon balls.

    Then, of course, we had to sit and eat, because it was wayyyy after lunch and we were in the middle of horse country with no other food prospect in sight.

    Crockett ordered us a chicken salad sandwich.

    I  love it when chicken salad has almonds and cranberries in it.

    See? Horse country.

    Friday night was a gigantic mess. I freaked out at about 9:30 and insisted that we GET OUT OF THE CAR RIGHT THEN, despite the fact that we were still two hours from our goal of Erie, PA.

    We tried to stop in Mansfield, OH, and in return Mansfield tried to murder us. Several times. There were two seriously creepy motels, there were maps that lied about where we were, there were roads that went nowhere.

    It was fucked up, y’all.

    We ended up stopping at a Super 8 lord knows where. I just know we got about 20 miles north of Mansfield before we felt safe enough to stop the car. Fortunately, the Super 8 was across the street from a karaoke bar.

    I will not post the video of me and Crockett singing Total Eclipse of the Heart. Or the video of Crockett singing Brother Love’s Travelin’ Salvation Show.

    Mostly because we don’t want to have to fend off a bunch of record producers, ya know?

    Saturday – We made it to Akron, NY, the little town outside of Buffalo that Crockett grew up in.

    We were there through the 4th, so we got to see the hometown parade!

    There were bands and approximately 17 million fire trucks. Everyone threw candy.

    Candy and gum. (Yes, I am a classy lady, thank you for noticing). The two big companies (and by big I mean a couple hundred employees) in Crockett’s hometown are an ice cream factory (Perry’s) and a bubblegum factory (Ford Gum).

    I know. He grew up in a Rockwell painting.

    His fabulous parents fed us grilled Italian sausage, roasted asparagus, and baked beans made from Crockett’s grandmother Fay’s recipe.

    If I’d known in advance how great those beans were, the proportions on this plate would have been a little different.

    It’s entirely possible I ate them cold out of the fridge later while no one was watching.

    After dinner we wandered around town, holding hands, until the fireworks started. We stopped under the nearest convenient tree to watch the show. Just picture me snuggled in next to Huck Finn up there.

    See?

    Rockwell painting.

    The drive was totally worth it.

     

    Corned beef

    Saturday, March 19th, 2011

    The last two years running, Crockett and I have done something of a pub crawl in our little town on St. Patty’s Day. We start at the Old Louisville Inn, which is an Irish-ish pub (you know, the place I get green chili – that sounds Irish, right?), and then meander around town, piling on the Guinness at each stop.

    This year we met some friends for a late Indian food lunch, and may or may not have fallen asleep afterwards. Have I mentioned that I love spring break?

    Our ill timed nap put us well into the happy hour, and OLI was standing room only.

    Fortunately, the Waterloo was there for us.

    I made the mistake of running to the ATM and asking Crockett to order me a drink.

    I arrived to brew and a dew.

    A beer and a shot of Tullamore Dew whiskey.

    I did not drink the shot.

    I gave it to a nice man down the bar.

    Do you see the bartender’s tie?

    Mmm. Guinness.

    We had these little corned beef sliders.

    I’m glad we had them.

    I think I can wait until next year to have more.

    Sixty

    Saturday, February 19th, 2011

    My momma turned 60 years old yesterday!

    Wait, let’s back up.

    I sort of feel like I’ve been all cookies all the time since Valentines day, so yesterday I decided to start off with a nice fruitful smoothie instead.

    Mmmm, smoothie. I finally bought Grape Nuts, so I’m back to my yogurt/milk/frozen banana/blueberries/Grape Nuts combination. Crunchy and delicious.

    Crockett left last night for two ski trips. It’s all very exciting – first he’s going to Vail with some old friends, and then he’s driving to Crested Butte with some other old friends. All of these friends are men, so if you’re picturing nine days of snowboarding, cigars, and scotch, you’re probably not far off. At least, that’s how I picture it. Perhaps right now they’re sitting around discussing how much they miss their girlfriends. Who knows.

    We had some crucial Costco shopping to do before he left, so we ended up nibbling on Costco snacks and eating a late lunch.

    We’re still working our way through the Asian Cabbage Casserole from Sunday. I swear to god it’s actually multiplying in the fridge, and now that he’s gone the remaining servings are up to me. Making an appropriate amount of food for two people is proving to be something of a challenge – more than twice what I needed alone, but less than a full family size.

    Then, it was BIRTHDAY TIME!


    That’s right, ladies and gentlemen. My wonderful mother turned 60 years old yesterday.

    See her, there towards the right, already getting ready to walk away and welcome more guests?

    One of her good friends put together this great party in the back room of The Cactus Wheel in downtown Louisville. There were 30+ people there, and we had margaritas and all sorts of fun. My mom is a competitive sprinter and cyclist, and most of her friends are as well, so this was a room full of athletic fabulousness.

    She got all kinds of fun cards and presents.

    That’s my hand-drawn hilarity in the top right corner.

    In case you were wondering.

    Crockett came by to say happy birthday to my mom, before he took off to pick up his friends from the airport. He and my dad had a beer and talked about all the crazy athletes in the room.

    I had tilapia tacos, which were great. I think we overwhelmed the Cactus Wheel’s tiny kitchen, because the food came out in fits and spurts and mine took an awfully long time. It’s a small restaurant, and 30 people ordering at once must’ve hit them hard. Everything was good, though.

    We had cake (also courtesy of my  mom’s lovely friend Valerie). And then? Things started to get a little goofy.

    Like, helium sucking goofy.

    I gave my mom a new updo, appropriate for her new age, and, then I went home. You know, sometimes grown ups don’t want their kids around to witness their goofiness.

    Happy Birthday Mom!

    lovey dovey day

    Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

    I have this very similar picture of Crockett, taken in this very kitchen, from about a month after we started dating – our first Valentine’s Cookie Day.

    In that one he has flour on his nose. I couldn’t make him repeat that part this time. Partially because he’s cutting up avocados, which are well known for being non-floury.

    I made my favorite sugar cookies (recipe from The Good Cookie – my absolute favorite cookie book ever). I don’t alter the recipe as printed at all, so I’m not going to write it down for y’all – just buy the book and use the Decorator Cookies. These are very mildly lemon flavored, perfectly soft, and just delicious.

    While the hearts were in the oven, we started Crockett’s new V-Day request. He IM’d me yesterday and specifically requested that we add chocolate chip or oatmeal raisin to our V-Day repertoire.

    Oatmeal raisin cookies are of the devil, so we made chocolate chip cookies.

    MASSIVE chocolate chip cookies.

    On the principle of not messing with a good thing, this is the Nestle recipe. I only make four changes. First, I use dark brown sugar instead of light. Second, I use 1 cup of brown sugar and 1/2 cup of white instead of 3/4 cup of each. Third, I decrease the baking soda (but that’s an altitude thing). Fourth, I use about 1 1/2 cups of chocolate chips instead of 2 cups.

    This makes chewy delicious cookies in which you occasionally get a chocolate free bite.

    Sometimes I like a chocolate free bite.

    I know, I’m a lunatic.

    While we waited for the heart cookies to cool enough to decorate, we ate the dinner that Crockett made.

    Spicy black beans, brown basmati rice, guacamole, chips, and grilled chicken.

    That’s right, we busted out the outdoor grill in February. It was like 60 yesterday.

    By we, I mean Crockett.

    I was distracted by cookies.

    We didn’t do official Valentine’s Day presents, but I consider this guacamole my present.

    I ate my weight in it, I’m pretty sure.

    We also watched The Social Network.

    I found it depressing.

    The we decorated cookies! See how layer-y flakey they are? I’m not kidding. Best sugar cookies ever.

    We did two styles. One with a pink royal icing…

    … and one with a pink cream cheese frosting and crunchy pink sparkles.

    Pink.

    Pink pink pink.

    Plus, did I not tell you these were gigantic?

    You can barely see my hand.

    Gigantic chocolate chip cookies, pink cookies, and guacamole.

    Best Valentine’s Day ever.

    Birthday dinner

    Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

    Last night we headed out fairly early in the evening to meet my parents for dinner. Because it was my birthday, and I wanted dinner.

    I wore my yellow high heels. It was my birthday, and I wanted heels.

    Crockett and I had a couple of stops to make prior to dinner – primarily a visit to a local electronics store where I was all ‘hey babe I should totally make jewelry out of resistors’ and he was all ‘hey babe, I love that you’re queen of the nerds and all, but can you shush while I concentrate?’. When we arrived at Southern Sun, Mom and Dad were both waiting for us.

    Very seriously waiting for us.

    Southern (and Mountain) Sun is a Boulder fixture. They brew their own delicious beer and have lots of burgers, great grilled cheese, and a lot of vegetarian options. The staff all rotates through the kitchen and the bar and the the floor, which makes for a unique experience.

    Since we had to wait for a table, Crockett ran up to the bar and got me a beer. Annapurna Amber, in this case. Barley and a little hoppy – not something I would have gotten myself. It was good. Sometimes you have to branch out, ya know? Even if it is your birthday and you don’t necessarily wanna.

    Beer for everyone.

    Yes, there were lots of healthy choices (probably). I didn’t see them, because I zoomed directly into the Junk Burger and did not pass go. Junk burger: bacon, cheese, sautéed mushrooms and onions, roasted garlic mayo on a tasty tasty burger. I got Swiss, cheese wise. I love this burger, y’all. It’s squishy where it should be squishy, crispy where it should be crispy, salty where it should be salty, and just generally everything you want in every bite.

    Dad: identical plate. We didn’t plan it this way, we just have excellent taste.

    Crockett: this was a reuben except where you might expect corned beef, you instead found turkey. Who knows. He liked it though.

    Then we retired to my dad’s place for cake.

    This cake is a tradition in my family. It was a tradition for my brother and I, but he’s vegan now, so I’m carrying on alone. My mom makes it.

    Layer 1: Chocolate cake
    Layer 2: Chocolate chips (added post baking, so they don’t get melted)
    Layer 3: Chocolate pudding
    Layer 4: Whipped cream
    Layer 5: Flaked coconut
    Layer 6: Maraschino cherries

    I look forward to it all year. Seriously. Leftovers are currently in the fridge, and I’m considering making Wednesday ‘Emma eats only chocolate cake’ day.