Mushy Stuff

So as you know, on Sunday I made the boyfriend dinner. This was momentous for two reasons:

1. I had never done this before. For really anyone besides Emma. Definitely not for a boy.

2. I decided to cook his two favorite foods: penne a la vodka and cheesecake. (But not just ANY cheesecake; peanut butter cheesecake. That was the “super-secret dessert.”)

Cheesecake, I discovered, is easy enough once you manage to track down the right pan. (Which is also what led me to discover Cheap Charlies — that’s really what it’s called. It’s this garage sale-like store with crowded aisles and floor-to-ceiling shelves of pretty much everything. Including spring-form pans.) Here’s how it’s done:

Take 2 pounds of cream cheese. (Yes, you read that correctly. TWO. POUNDS.)

Add about a cup of peanut butter.

Mix in sugar, flour, and eggs. Blend until smooth.

Bake for about an hour and a half in a water bath. (Tricker than it sounds. Wrap the pan in foil to keep water from leaking in.)

After you turn the oven off, leave the cheesecake in for another hour or so to cook all the way through. Then refrigerate overnight, if possible. (Doesn't it look cute hiding in there?)

So that’s really it.

The tricky part was the vodka sauce. The boyfriend has always made it quite clear that homemade vodka sauce never matches up with the kind he can get at a restaurant. I’ve had his favorite restaurant version, and it is seriously tough competition for a non-professional chef. The trick is getting it to the right thickness.

So with this is mind, I did my typical nerdy thing and researched. My final recipe was a combination of two I found online. My secret? Don’t be stingy with the cream and butter. (This is CLEARLY a heart healthy meal, right?)

The final result?

Pretty, ain't it?

He's very patient with my photo-taking obsession. But look, he's happy!

He took one bite, looked at me suspiciously, and subtly accused me of trying to trick him with a restaurant version. That, ladies and gentlemen, is what we call a WIN. Combine that with the mind-blowing that happened when he found out there was such a thing as peanut butter cheesecake, and I think I have officially redeemed myself for not cooking him dinner in six months.

Cheesecake, served.

That's his 'Please stop taking photos of me. Please.' face. I have no idea why he likes me.

Oh right. THAT'S why.

I don’t like to brag (much), but I have to just a little bit.

I was having a decent day, but everything was made about a million times brighter when these were delivered to my desk:

As my loyal readers know, the boyfriend and I recently celebrated our six month anniversary, but we had to do so because he’s in Canada (until SUNDAY!). Yesterday was the actual day, and today I got these. AND chocolate. The guy knows me.

So anyway, now I’m that girl giddily grinning to herself at her desk. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I’m a pretty fortunate girl. Here’s a little bit of why.

So much to tell! To begin, I can finally reveal what the super secret present was that I got for my boyfriend. It waaaaaas…..

Islander tickets! (New York Islanders. It’s a hockey team. For those not in the know.)

They’re his fave, and they were pretty good seats, so needless to say, I scored major girlfriend points. Plus, it was sort of a six-month thing (yeesh, time flies!), so it was a nice way to celebrate. And they won! In overtime!

Everyone had a nice time.

Now, before I tell you the next part, I have to preface by saying that when I write about something tangible in my blog, I don’t expect someone to run out and buy it for me. I swear, it’s just something I’ve either recently discovered or have been thinking about for a while, and I’m always pressed to come up with something to write about, so that’s what usually ends up happening. So no expectations.

Ok and /preface.

So the boyfriend left for a month in Canada today (boo), but before he left, he gave me two presents (yay!). One was a flash drive of songs that made him think of me (all together now….aww!) and the other I had to wait for because it was arriving in the mail. As you know, I’m not the most patient person, so this was trying. However, I do love surprises, so I sucked it up and waited.

Imagine my thrill upon arriving home tonight and discovering THIS:

Containing THESE:

The boots I wanted! Now, again, I know. I KNOW. Emma is somewhere barfing, and I KNOW that the brand of these particular boots is the first syllable of an adjective meaning “unpleasant or repulsive, esp. in appearance,” but I think they’re cute. And OH my GAWD are they so warm. I want a giant one to LIVE in this winter.

The point is, both gifts were terribly thoughtful, so he scored major boyfriend points, too. Now if only I could get him back in the country, we’d be in business…

I have a feeling this will be a relatively long post, so I apologize in advance.

Can I help it that life has been just so gosh-darn EXCITING (ish) lately? No, no I can’t.

Ok, here’s as brief as possible a sum-uppance of my Labor Day weekend:

Thursday: Arrive in Des Moines at our (pitifully) small airport. Get picked up by parents. Return home to meet sister and sister’s boyfriend. Play dominoes. Lose terribly.

Friday: Wake up, shower (yes, this is relevant). Make my dad and Joe omelets. Best girlfriend ever, right? Well, wrong. While on the deck (also relevant) eating said omelets, Joe points at my neck and says, “What happened?”

No, I was not hemorraging from my jugular. What he was pointing to was this:

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That would be the necklace he had given me. (Which I absolutely adore.) It’s an old typewriter key for the ampersand symbol. I had worn it in the shower not knowing it wasn’t waterproof, water had gotten inside, and the symbol for the key had run. What that means is that I had ruined the first gift he’d ever given me. I wish I had a picture of it before I did so, but he had only given it to me LESS THAN 12 HOURS PRIOR. Worst. Girlfriend. Ever.

So there we are on the deck, me trying not to cry, when my dad suddenly realizes that he has LOCKED us out on the deck. Not the brightest moment of the trip. (On a related note, it’s my dad’s birthday today! Shout out! My gift to you is not saying how old you are :))

Anyways, after my mom drove home from work to let us in, the day started to look up. I took Joe to my old high school to see where my mom works, he had lunch with my dad while I ate with these lovely ladies:

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…and then we spend the evening in downtown Des Moines. This happened:

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Saturday: Joe went golfing with my dad and some friends while my mom and I hit up the mall. I got awesome shoes for $10, plus a few other things. Joy! That night was family dinner with my brother and his lovely wife and daughter.

Sunday: Meeting in the morning, followed up with Joe’s first trip to Dairy Queen

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…followed up with a BBQ at the Blanchard’s house. Fun (and burgers) were had by all.

Monday: Slept in, ate penne a la vodka, got on a flight home. After dinner with Joe’s parents in Greenpoint, I was home sweet home.

So that’s everything. I’ll save you the cutesy ending (THIS time) since the actual message was so long. Can’t get enough photos? Click here for more.