Tower of Sierra (Or Overboard Beer Birthday Cake)

Last Thursday was Tim’s birthday. Because he’s one of my favorite people on the planet I decided I should embarrass him on the day of his birth.

So I made this:

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It’s a tower of Sierra Nevada. 

Tim loves Sierra and dogs, so it seemed like the perfect present. (Like, DUH.)

The thing is, making things for people is kind of like a present for me because it’s an excuse to get out my paints and my glue gun.

Glue guns are everything.

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I made this sign with watercolor paints and a fine tipped pen.

Then I glued it on with my gun.

“Two please” is one of our inside jokes.

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So is the Boxer’s sign.

It’s a reference to a rather ridiculous argument Tim and I had recently.

The layers between the bottles are cardboard cake rounds that I covered in gold foil.

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I couldn’t bear the idea of white cardboard sticking out.

Who could?

Anyway…

The topper is a weird watercolor thing that sort of reminds me of the eye of a hurricane combined with a rooster. I don’t know why it looks this way. It’s just what came out when I was painting, and I went with it.

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It’s pretty whacked, but whatever.

The nicknames on the topper are probably only funny to us, but that was sort of the point. (I’m “The Worst,” and none of us are actually named “Darryl” — just in case you were wondering.)

The pups’ party hats were cupcake toppers. I cut the stems off of them and then glued them on their heads with my gun.

See?

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I NEED a Dalmatian puppy like NOW.

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And probably a Lab puppy too.

MY puppy wasn’t so helpful in the construction.

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He basically slept through the entire process.

Did you notice his hideous couch?

It’s gone now.

Tim helped me haul it away today and now I have a shiny new one.

(More on that another day.)

Oh, and one last thing before I go — Tim’s birthday card.

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He loves Snickers.

He also has a Chihuahua named Baby who bit him on the face the day he brought him home, so this little Chihuahua is saying sorry on behalf of Baby.

Okay, that’s really all for now.

Couch post later.

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Gift Wrap Goodness (Or Presents for People I Love)

I like presents.

I like giving them, I like getting them, and I LOVE wrapping them.

Since we’re just ending the holiday season, I thought I should show you some of my giftiness.

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This was a book for Dan.

Dan is from Minnesota (where the moose hang out). Dan likes Jameson, books, and bread pudding. I didn’t have time to make him dessert, but I did make him dinner on Christmas day, so there’s that.

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This was a bartening book for Tim. (He asked for it.)

Tim can be grumpy, but he always brings me clean socks, new shirts, and salad without tomatoes or raw onions because he knows I hate them. He has like 32,000 dogs, so I had to wrap his present in pugs. (Also? I garnished his gift with a lamb’s ear covered in liver paste for one of his beasts.)

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My boss, Brian, likes bread and recipes, so this was for him.

It was a soup recipe book because he’s bonkers for soup. I added some holiday flair in the way of bulbs to counteract his seasonal “Ba-Humbug” situation.

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This naughty nugget and his gift were for Lauren.

Lauren is my dog’s fairy godmother. She lets him sleep with her whenever he spends the night, and we both love her to death.

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This little mouse and his books were for Jody.

Jody and I have been friends since we were 19 years old. We met while we were having meltdowns in edit bays in Ann Arbor, and the rest is history. 20 years later, we’ve been together for funerals, birthdays, Christmas Mass, and everything in between. This is a stack of Narnia books for her son, Connor, who just happens to be my birthday buddy. 

Jody attended my church Christmas Tea in December, and I gave her a copy of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and Connor was HOOKED, so I bought her the rest of the series.

More on the church Christmas Tea later….

Birthdays, Bows, and Banana Leaf Jammies (Or Hedy’s Birthday)

Monday is my Aunt Hedy’s birthday. (It also happens to be Tom Cruise’s birthday too — in case you care.)

Hedy’s leaving tomorrow for her annual holiday in Hawaii, so it was imperative that I deliver her present today.

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OK, technically it was presents, plural, but whatever. 

I put shells on her plunder because she’s planning to bask on the beach for two weeks like a boss, and I like to be thematically appropriate when I can.

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I may have used a glue gun… and paint pens.

Also?

I made sure the ribbons matched the card because I’m me — and I care about things like that.

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Please ignore the dog toys on the floor. 

My attention to detail only goes so far; sometimes usually there’s an errant dog toy in my pics. (I’m all about gift wrap, but photography and I are NOT friends.)

So that’s the latest in my life.

Well, that and the super important thing that happened yesterday: my Katie Kime jammies arrived!!! They are a banana leaf print with a pink monogramed breast pocket and they are the absolute PINNACLE of bedtime fashion.

More on that later… I promise.

Now I need to kiss my beast on his gorgeous dog face 14,000 times before I go to work.

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Enjoy your nap while I slave to keep you in kibble, kid.

Just kidding!!!

He’s the best baby ‘roo who ever lived, and I’d do anything to make him happy.

Of Cancer and Gift Baskets (Or Smiles and Tears)

Friday my monster had surgery.

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His post-op lampshade situation was short-lived, however.

He figured out how to remove it because he is a canine criminal mastermind — even when he’s high on morphine.

I am supposed to find out this week if his cancer spread and if we’re facing the beginning of a battle — or the end. I try to put it out of my head as much as I can because I don’t want to waste time worrying until I know it’s necessary, but prognosis aside, his three big incisions break my heart. I almost cried when I saw them.

Full confession: I love my dog more than I love most people, so this isn’t easy. Maybe that makes me a misanthrope, or maybe he’s just a very special beast. Either way, I have been loathe to leave my house since bringing him home from the vet. I’ve turned down dinner invitations, hiking offers, and I bailed on book club. I just want to be home so I can watch him sleep.

Here he is crushing Cee Cee the Cancer Lion during a recent nap.

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Die Cancer Lion! Die!

I bought Cee Cee for him the day his initial needle biopsies came back positive for cancer. I cried so much that night that I woke up the next morning with my right eye nearly swollen shut. I had to ice my eyelids before I went to work. (It wasn’t awesome.)

I did manage to drag myself away from my patient this weekend to make an appearance at a baby shower, albeit, a brief appearance.

I probably spent more time putting together the gift basket than I spent at the shower, but I did what I could.

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I like presents.

That’s why I get carried away making them look pretty for people.

Like this one.

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Even boys need bows on their birthday. Fact.

Presents help me deal — and they help me express things I sometimes fail to communicate properly.

That’s also why I cook for people. It’s my way of saying I care about them even if I’m lousy at saying it sometimes.

Okay, enough rambling. I’m off to blast some Matoma remixes and make myself a quiche because I need to show myself a little love via my mouth now.

 

 

Tire Chains and Gift Wrap (Or GJelina for ME

Back in December I was supposed to attend my friend Nicole’s annual Vision Board Party.

Every year we cut pictures from magazines and create collages to inspire ourselves for the upcoming year.

See?

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I’m not saying this is mine from 2016, but… maybe I am.

In addition to making colorful collages, we drink wine, eat snacks, and do a gift exchange. (Major girl things.)

I had my gift wrapped and ready for the party, but I didn’t make it back from the slopes in time to attend the soiree.

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Some nonsense about tire chains delayed my trip up the mountain.

Apparently, they slow your roll.

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Even when you bring your favorite engineer with you.

Now I don’t have any visions for 2017, but I did end up with this smartly wrapped gift.

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And it didn’t have a home.

So I did what any sensible adult would do…

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I unwrapped it.

And I gave it to myself. I mean, I adore GJelina, so why not?

Now I’m browsing the pages for inspiration. I may make meatballs in pomodoro sauce soon.

I’ll let you know if I do.

Gift Basket Situation (Or Unexpected Gifts)

A friend of mine is going through a tough time. I’ll spare you the details — mostly because his story is not my story to tell — and partly because the point of this story is the Get Better Gift Basket I made him today.

We’ve had countless conversations about soup since we met, so I wanted to start there. (We’re weird. Don’t ask.)

Because this was kind of a last-minute emergency gift basket situation, I couldn’t make a soup that needed a long time to simmer. I decided to make clam chowder because: a) it doesn’t require a complicated broth, b) it’s awesome, and c) because we agree that our favorite bar needs it on the menu. (I used this recipe for New England Clam Chowder.)

And because no mood-lifting gift basket is complete without homemade cookies, I baked some of those too. We both love oatmeal cookies, but we disagree on the nuts and raisins of it all. (I’m pro. He’s anti.) I found a recipe on Epicurious that fit the anti bill. You can find it here.

We also have an ongoing debate about the superiority of peanut versus peanut butter M&M’s, so I threw in a bag of his favorite. (I’m team peanut butter. He’s team peanut. In case you were dying to know or whatever.)

We do agree on Modelo, however, and luckily I had a few bottles in the house, so I added a few of those as well.

He’s a contractor, so I arranged everything in an aluminum bucket I picked up at Home Depot, and I added a funny card because he has one of the best laughs I’ve ever heard.

It’s infectious.

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I have a messed up sense of humor. Don’t hold it against me.

I set out to cheer him up today, and in the process a curious thing happened.

As I was putting the oatmeal cookie dough balls onto the baking sheet, a wave of emotion hit me almost out of nowhere… and I realized today was January 10….

January 10, 2017.

It would have been my cousin Justin’s 30th birthday today.

Justin committed suicide when he was 25 years old.

I think somewhere in my unconscious I knew today’s significance even before I set out on my mission to cheer up another man in a dark season. Sometimes our soul knows before our mind does.

I cried while the first batch of cookies baked, and when my tears stopped flowing, I was incredibly grateful for the opportunity to use the pain of my cousin’s unrealized dreams to assuage the pain of someone else’s unrealized dreams. (Honestly, I was also a little grateful for a cathartic cry that wasn’t related to an episode of Grey’s Anatomy.)

I called Justin’s mother while I was en route to deliver the gift, and we had a nice conversation. Her strength, grace, and faith astound me in the face of all she has endured. Superheroes should take a lesson from her.

True story.

But before I get too maudlin, I’ll just show you the pics from the Get Better Gift Basket.

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The blue ribbons don’t match.

I’m trying not to freak out about that.

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I told you it was a last-minute emergency.

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But it still came together pretty well — all things considered.

So, anyway, life is beautiful, messy, and unexpected, and sometimes when you’re trying to give someone else a gift, God gives you a gift of your own.

Today that gift was an unexpected opportunity to honor my cousin, and to show someone else that there is hope — even in the face of a hopeless situation.

Hark A Shark and Noah’s Ark (Or I Attend Another Baby Shower)

If someone asks me what I’m doing this weekend there’s a good chance the answer will be,
“Rewriting my script,” “Folding fitted sheets,” or “Attending another baby shower.”

Now, before you get offended, I’m not saying these things are the same. Though they’re all improved by a mimosa bar, the truth is they don’t have much else in common.

I actually love baby showers, and I’ve been to so many in the last three years it’s rare I don’t win the trivia challenges about human gestation, breast feeding, and dilation — or the guess-the-size-of-the-belly-with-string game because REALLY I’ve been to THAT many.

I love my friends.

They’re gorgeous… and prolific… and honestly?

Who doesn’t love creating a good gift basket filled with books and onesies? I know I do.

So here’s my latest.

It’s a shark/pirate combo involving Peter Spier’s Noah’s Ark, The Cat in the Hat’s Hark a Shark, and a mostly gender neutral onesie for the surprise baby arriving August 21.

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Books, bows, and jammies for pirate babies.

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The headless shark onesie was not supposed to be creepy, but it might be. #oops

Oh, and  in case you’re wondering… that is my new table. It’s mahogany — and looking at it almost makes me feel like an adult. Or something…

Aye, Aye, mates!