We’re chatting about a few personalized present projects that we took on last month over on Young House Love today, so why not keep the gift theme going over here? Clara received lots of thoughtful and wonderful gifts for her birthday, but there’s one in particularly sentimental gift that I just had to share with you guys. It wasn’t from us, or a grandparent, or even one of her playmates. It was from one of my old college buddies. I know, not my first guess either for an elaborately executed and very sweet present for my daughter. But then again, Jamie’s a great guy so I shouldn’t be that surprised.

I’m not sure how to explain this without sounding completely weird. But ultimately it is kinda weird, so maybe it can’t be avoided. I first should explain a bit about my friendship with Jamie. When I was accepted into UVA’s improv comedy group The Whethermen my third year of college, he was the president. He was a year ahead so we only overlapped for one school year before he graduated and headed back home to the west coast, but we became great friends in that time and even though we’ve only seen each other a handful of times since then, he’s become a loyal blog reader too.

That’s not actually him I’m pointing to in this old photo. That’s our other Whether-friend Jordan. Jamie’s the one giving Jordan the reach-around nipple tweak (I warned you that this explanation would be weird). And yes, I used to wear glasses (now contacts) and I used to get bad haircuts (before Sherry entered my life). The shirts we’re wearing are our official Whethermen performance shirts. They’re emblazoned (and by emblazoned I mean crudely stamp-painted) with our “brand names.” At the end of each new Whethermen’s first semester, they’re given a brand name as part of their official induction into the group. Jordan was “Steinway” because he played the piano. I was “Yahoo!” because, as Jamie explained as he presented it to me, I worked at the school’s Information Desk and seemed “to know everyone.” It was a strange, fun tradition that the group started long before any of us were in it.

But back to Clara’s present. A box arrived with a small wrapped gift and this sheet of paper.

Jamie immediately earned “wow” points for including a QR code with his gift. Consider me impressed. The code linked to a YouTube video (which, for sentimental reasons, I’ll keep just between us) where Jamie spoke about what he felt Clara meant to him, us, and the blogosphere. Again, he’s earning both execution and sentiment points.

At the end of the video, he gave us permission to unwrap the present. This is what we found.

Her own Whethermen shirt! And to think she earned one without even having to audition…

Jamie chose the brand name Gorilla Glue not just for it’s ties to DIY, but also because he sees Clara as “a strong bond for our family” and a “force that brings people together” on the Internet too. It also helped that she has a things for monkeys.

Now I don’t think Clara will be doing any improv comedy shows anytime soon, but she’s already putting the shirt to good use. We had fun identifying every letter on it and then counting how many Gs and Ls we could find.

 We had a bit of fun trying to say Gorilla Glue too, though it probably could still use some work. Perhaps Jamie, now a Speech Pathologist, could come in handy.

We realize Clara doesn’t get why this shirt is so meaningful but I, for one, am very touched by it. So a big thanks to Jamie for the time and thought that went into this very special gift. Now can Clara get a suggestion from the audience? I need an occupation, a fictional character, and a famous movie quote for her next improv act. Go!



Broad Appetit

We feel like we’re kinda bingeing on Richmond events and festivals lately (like the recent Street Art Festival and Riverrock). But that’s what summer’s for, right? And this weekend was no exception. In fact, it was almost a literal binge thanks to the bountiful food at the Broad Appetit street food festival (held on Broad Street, hence the name).

The concept behind the event is that 60-something local restaurants gather in booths along Broad Street to serve up mini versions of their signature dishes for just $3 a plate. Since we don’t get out to “nice” dinners much anymore, it was a fun way to check out some local eats without having to wrangle a babysitter (Clara was happy to roll through in her stroller).

But enough talk. Let’s get on the “food porn.” Here’s what we munched on:

1. Seared scallops with charred corn and bacon with a tomato marmalade from Spoon. (My favorite of the day!)

2. Sweet potato noodles with carrots, onions, scallions and mushrooms from Ginkgo.

3. Sweet red pepper risotto from The Camel.

4. Pork taco from Tio Pablo Taqueria (Sherry’s favorite!)

5. Pastrami pork loin on pumpernickel with green tomato chow-chow from Pasture.

6. Pork belly buns from Sticky Rice.

7. Shrimp and quinoa from Canal Bistro.

8. Grilled pound cake and homemade nutella with macerated raspberries from students at Stratford University.


BELOW: Cake pops from the Cake Valley Candy Company

Picking the cake pop we wanted was perhaps our toughest decision of the day. We finally went for the raspberry lemon one, as some of you saw in this Instagram picture that we shared from our visit.

Once we switched over to dessert mode, it was hard to stop. We also got this watermelon basil popsicle from Spoon thinking Clara would love it.

But she took one bite, made a sour face and turned back to the lollipop that had kept her occupied the whole time. Oh well. More watermelon basil pop for us.

We finally called it quits and started to head home. Although after seeing this sign for a Chocolate Bacon Cupcake we wish we had left room for one more morsel. Darn it!

Sherry also left the festival wishing she had brought home another piece of bacon – aka these pig statues that were peppered around one of the booths. She wanted one. Hardcore.

Somehow I think someone would’ve noticed the short Jersey girl running away with a pig tucked under her arm.

Pig or no pig, we had an awesome time. We could go to a Broad Appetit every weekend if it was there. Who do we call to make that happen?