Golden Girls, (Oprah's) Gratitude Moments, and Gettin' Old

Condoms Rose! Condoms! Condoms! Condoms!

This week I celebrated a birthday somewhere in my 30s. I have never been a fan of my birthday. I don't know if it is the extra attention directed at myself when I would much rather be directing it toward others. I don't think it is the impending doom of old age as I distinctly recall not enjoying my birthday as young as six. There is even photo evidence of myself crying at multiple venues over the years. Tears at McDonald's. Tears at Chuck E. Cheese. Tears at the Edgewater West Hotel pool party (and I even had my name on the marquee!). 

For years I kept a paper calendar full of birthdays of everyone I knew. That has long been traded in for Facebook. I get daily reminders of who was born when. There is a series of "HBD" and posted quips. And usually the gentle reminder of how that person came to be a "friend". It's funny to think that for one second you cross the mind of all those people you're friends with. Perhaps even someone you've only met once. 

This year there were no tears. Perhaps I am a little more dead inside. Perhaps I have grown wiser. Perhaps there was not enough wine or orange soda. 

There was however an outpouring of kindness. And I think for the first time in a long time I was able to appreciate the sentiment behind the phrase "happy birthday". This birthday was unique in that I am a year into my new home in The South. I have made a new division of friends. And my expectations of the day were altered due to other unexpected forces. It was going to be just another Thursday. Yet surprises were made. Salutations in abundance. And the sentiment was well received, if not well needed. 

When I arrived home that evening I was in one of those Oprah gratitude moments. Allowing myself to be grateful for the friends I have. And hopeful for any new friends to come. Also at this time I opened a gift from two friends back in Minnesota. A coffee mug with a quote from the classic television show The Golden Girls. Undoubtedly one of the greatest shows about friendship that has ever graced American television. I laughed until I almost cried. 

So perhaps all those years ago the tears at McDonald's or Chuck E.Cheese were overwhelming tears of appreciation. Maybe my 6 year old self wasn't emotionally intelligent enough to process the whole situation. Or maybe someone just stole my damn chicken McNuggets. 

Thank you to all who wished me well, blessed me with gifts, and reminded me why we take that chance and talk to new people. 

Brain Freeze, Cakes, and Raven Simone

Yesterday was Boyfriend's birthday.  Sadly Boyfriend shares his birthday with a couple other major events (though none so major as his birth).  Labor Day and Duluth Superior Pride fall around his birthday every year.  People leave town and drag queens take the stage leaving what feels like little time to appreciate all that is Boyfriend's Birthday. 

Last year I went so far as to throw a bingo themed surprise party a month in advance.  This year involved a last minute trip to Duluth to visit Just Joni and to attend a BBQ/Pride event at Professor Keith's pride pad.  While there was no iPhone or Bingo shaped cake as there have been in the past, I did use some stealth texting skills to make sure Boyfriend had his birthday ice cream cake.  Thank you Professor Keith for making the cake a reality.  And if the ice cream cake was not enough I fulfilled the wet cake dream of making the store bought box confetti cake that Boyfriend would certainly body check me for to get the last slice.  His birthday cupcakes are pictured above.   

I am sure you are thinking this could not be all the kitchen shenanigans that have occurred since my last post?!?!   The last few weeks have been mildly busy as I try to take on the cut throat world of food styling while balancing my passions for dressing mannequins at the mall and using up the rest of my swollen ovaries in baked goods (I had to get that in one more time).  There have been many subsequent loaves of zucchini spice bread, continuous consumption of the most adorable teeny tiny tomatoes from the garden of Boyfriend's parents, and a dairy explosion of ricotta and mozzarella with hints of fried eggplant to create an eggplant parmesan .

The above mentioned BBQ got me back in the kitchen this past Friday to try zucchini based brownies.  After I pulled the nearly 1000 lbs pan out of the oven, let them cool and carefully sliced a Cliff Huxtable style sample piece I came to a zucchini conclusion.  No matter how you dress it up when you bake zucchini you are simply making zucchini cake.  You can shape it like a cookie, but all you get is a mookie.  You can shape like a brownie, but all you get is chocolate cake.  I'm sure out in the great Internets there is a true gooey brownie recipe that uses swollen ovaries, but I have yet to find it.  And truth be told I'm getting a little bored with my chocolate zucchini experimentation.  Later this week I hope to try zucchini chips.   We'll see what happens...

And one last note.  Boyfriend and I recently had dinner a our friends home in Narnia (some may call this an outer ring suburb).  Our friend Baby Mama is not a cook (she once made a meatloaf for dinner and forgot the bread crumbs - which means she baked a seasoned football shaped hamburger).  However this past meal was amazing.  She discovered the crazy fun past time of homemade pizza making.  We dined on BBQ Chicken and Supreme style pizzas.  Both were delicious.  For dessert we had ice cream cake. 

Happy Labor Day. 

photo by me