Before I actually announce the winner, I just want to say how much I thoroughly enjoyed reading your comments. It was so much fun to read about all the different things that people love to make—from homemade gluten-free breads to big, hearty pots of soup—and also great to hear from many of you that cooking is bigger than just putting food on the table. It’s about spending time with significant others, teaching and having fun with your children, and sharing with friends.
Cooking and baking for me is all about these kinds of connections. As much pleasure as I get from the act of creating, it’s the sharing that ultimately makes it worthwhile. When I put out the prompt, I never expected that I’d see so much of this in your responses. It’s inspiring. The love and enthusiasm in your comments was immense and I can’t thank you each enough for sharing so openly.
All that having been said—though you really all deserve an apron—there can only be one winner. And that winner is:
I have something pretty special to share with you today. I’m very excited about this, and I think you will be too.
My friend Anna recently started her own small business. I know Anna from high school. We never hung out on the weekends or anything, but we had friends in common and shared the stage in our school’s production of Into the Woods. She played Cinderella—a role that, if you met her, you’d realize was sort of perfect. She’s a beautiful blond with classic sensibilities, but she brings a sort of fun, spunky, Anna-ness to everything she does. She has a smile that crinkles her nose and an infectious laugh that, even though I haven’t seen her in almost a decade, I still distinctly know.
Through the magic of the internet, I’ve seen Anna raise an adorable little girl (who is a mini version of her in the best of ways), get engaged, radiate at her beautiful autumn wedding, and welcome daughter number two to the world. I also read along as she started a blog about her life, her girls, and her passion for Target DIY projects. Through this blog I watched her newly discovered love of sewing ruffled throw pillows for her home grow into something bigger and lead to the opening of her Etsy shop.
Anna makes and sells everything from headbands to coffee sleeves to some of the cutest scarves I’ve ever seen. Oh, and aprons. Flirty, ruffled, and totally adorable aprons. Recently, she was sweet enough to make one just for me. She knows how much time I spend in the kitchen and thought it might make my time there just a little more fun. And you know what? It has.
I mean, how cute is this? The patterns work so well together and I love the quality of the fabric. I’m also quite proud to say that, though I’ve only had mine a couple days, it already has muffin batter on it.
And here’s the part where it gets exciting for you. Anna’s gift has inspired me to give something back. Once I received the apron and saw how lovely it was in person, I knew that there was no way I could keep all this joy to myself. So, I will be giving away an original Ruffle Couture apron to one very lucky reader. But it gets even better….
I haven’t been posting a whole lot about George. The truth is, there just hasn’t been much to tell. In case you’re unfamiliar, George is our Meyer lemon tree. Well, officially he’s a Meyer lemon tree. In actuality, he’s mostly just been a tree.
Last summer, I got very excited when he made his first round of flowers. Unfortunately, I learned that both excitement and flowers do not beget lemons. A few months later, he made his second round of flowers. I mostly kept quiet the second time because I wasn’t sure that anything would come of it, and I didn’t want to count my lemons before they grew. Round two did yield the first promising sign that George was growing in the right direction. Little green baby lemons, tucked down in the petals of his flowers showed me that he was at least trying. They didn’t last, though. A few days after the flower petals fell, the lemon babies dropped off too.
Eating gluten-free and ordering takeout aren’t always the easiest of things to accomplish simultaneously. It’s becoming more convenient in our neighborhood, with a couple restaurants making significant efforts to cater to their GF customers, but sometimes one is simply not in the mood for Latin fusion or a burger and fries. Sometimes a person just wants to open the door and be presented with a smiley-face bag full of sodium-laden Chinese chow.
Unfortunately, Chinese is one of the most difficult of all takeout options. It seems as though it should be rather innocuous. Beef and broccoli and rice. Chicken and snow peas and rice. All obviously gluten-free—if you’re ordering them steamed, that is. Otherwise, nearly all Chinese sauces have some sort of wheat component. It’s been two years, but the fact that soy sauce contains wheat still makes me twitch with annoyance.
So, any time we’ve ordered Chinese over the past couple years, I’ve gotten plain old steamed something. My saucy solution has been to drown it in wheat-free tamari. Not bad, but it’s not always fulfilling when Chris is sitting next to me with his sesame chicken and eggplant with garlic sauce.
For the past few weeks, though, I’ve been on a pseudo-Asian lunch kick. I’ll cook up some quinoa and stir fry some tempeh and mushrooms and whatever else I have on hand, finishing it in my own concoction of a sauce. It’s been great and I’ve slowly figured out a recipe that I love.
I’m a quarter of a century old today. Finally an age that sounds right. 25 still seems too young, but a quarter of a century—I can wear that comfortably.
I love that I am married to a man that I can talk to about anything, and that I enjoy talking to about everything.
I love that I am married.
It is wonderful to me that different people find happiness and fulfillment in different lifestyles. I often find it disappointing that some people miss out on seeing the beauty in this by looking down on or being critical of others’ choices. We all have our niche, our comfort, our joy, and it's more interesting that those things are not the same for everyone.
I need a bigger kitchen.
Living in New York constantly reminds me that every person is beautiful, often in very uncommon or unexpected ways.
Walking along mucky, slushy city streets makes me feel like a cat negotiating furniture, trying to make it from one piece to the next without touching the ground (wherein “touching the ground” is a metaphor for stepping ankle-deep into a cold, black puddle of wintertime grossness).
I am excited about things to come.
Watching my DVR recording of The Bachelor every Tuesday morning over breakfast makes me unreasonably happy, and I don’t care who knows it.