May 122016
 

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We didn’t have a grand scale birthday party for Chooch this year on account of us having to sell copper from abandoned houses* to take him to Disney World. But I wanted to still have a small cake-eating get-together at our house when we came back because cake. And also, friends. We just like company. (And by “we” I mean me and Chooch.)

*(THAT WAS A JOKE. Always gotta clarify since this dumb blog/hyperbole has gotten me into real life trouble so many times. God forbid I jest!)

I left the cake up to Henry and Chooch and they chose ice cream cake from Dairy Queen which is OK but I really wanted Bethel Bakery cake, ugh. Ice cream just doesn’t do it for.

And this is clearly all about me. Me and my 10 year old C-section scar!!!!

The guest list was diverse and basically perfect because it was curated by me:

  • Kara and Harland
  • Henry’s mom, Judy
  • Henry’s sister, Kelly
  • Chooch’s cousin, Zac
  • Chooch’s friends, Olivia and Sophia, and their mom Meggan (who has become my first ever mom-friend! And you guys thought I was forever tainted!)
  • Wendy and Summer
  • Robbie and Nikki
  • Blake and Hailey
  • Shawn, Jess, and Anais

Henry totally lost control of his wallet and bought COOKIES in addition to the cake. DISCOUNT GROCERY STORE COOKIES! In the background, please note that somehow Ted NUDEgent is still alive!

As soon as Blake there, I told him about Henry getting BULLIED at work and Henry was so embarrassed. He should take Blake to work with him once and then I bet that son-of-a-bitchin’ salesman will think twice the next time he tells Henry he can’t wait to see him get fired!

(I wish he would bring me to work with him, though. I’m fucking ITCHING to start a fight with this guy. I found him on Facebook and I can tell that he’s totally the type of guy who’d hit a girl too. BRING IT.)

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A video posted by Erin Appledale (@ohhonestlyerin) on

The only candle we had in the house, inexplicably, was a lone “N.” It got the job done, though.

Did I mention that Meggan brought me a present, too?! A cute little ornamental frog to guard over my succulents. I love it!

This is the only picture I got of my kid during the entire party. He was busy, I guess.

BUSY GETTING HIS ASS KICKED OUTSIDE BY BLAKE!

At one point, it was getting so rowdy outside that Kara slowly leaned forward on the couch to peek out the front door. “Someone is going to hurt any minute now, mark my words,” she said in that OH WELL tone that most moms store on the tip of their tongues. Literally 10 seconds later, Chooch came into the house with his hand over his mouth, and proudly exclaimed, “Blake made my mouth bleed!” He did some rinsing in the bathroom and then went right back out for more.

My favorite was that he was getting beat up by Harland, too. Can’t say you don’t deserve that, boy! Nothing like a good old birthday beatin’.

Judy was flat out pissed at Kara for not bringing her youngest son, Theo, but then Wendy arrived with baby Summer and all was right in Judy’s world again. I wasn’t there when it happened, but Henry said Judy basically dropped everything she had in her hands and rushed over to steal Summer. She is A BABY INHALER.

Summer likes my house because of all the clowns, obviously. I’m going to get her a clown for every holiday.

In this picture, Kara was talking about how much she wants another baby and Wendy was like, “Great, but you ain’t taking mine.”

Shawn brought up the very storied Gallaghers and we had a grand time regaling Judy and Jess with all their scandalous ways, like when Melissa Gallagher had a baby without knowing she was pregnant and her husband Mike thought she just had eels in her belly. Kara was like, “Please, let’s have a reunion with all the people you used to invite over from 2006-2008, like Ryan ‘OMG I LOVE JOHN WATERS, BALTIMORE, BALTIMORE, DIVINE!’ from LiveJournal; the Gallaghers; and Regan and Lance, the tax-evading Civil War reenactors who come complete with their own bench on which to sit and judge everyone.”

Those were some weird times, socially, for me. Sorry to all of my friends for making you endure such rude and infuriating people!

I failed miserably and taking pictures. I was distracted by hockey and all the good conversation. JANET JACKSON IS HAVING A BABY! FREE CONDOMS! ROLLING ROCK TOWN FAIR!

And then Chooch left his own party before it was over! He decided he was going to sleep over Zac’s so he left with them and then the rest of just there and talked completely shit on him. Chris and Monica texted me around 10:30 because they were going to stop by on their way back from their prior engagement (I’M SO FORMAL), but I was like, “He’s not here anymore.” And Monica was all, “Even better!” because she and Chooch are intense frenemies, but then Chris was like, “No Chooch, no Chronica!”

On the real though, it was a nice evening of celebrating my kid’s monumental cross-over into double-digits. Thanks to everyone who came or was there in spirit!

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Feb 022016
 

Party People

  • Kara
  • Corey
  • Chris and Monica
  • Blake and Haley
  • Aaron and Erica (I think — drinking does not allow me to remember names)
  • JANNA – WHO WAS THE LAST ONE TO ARRIVE

In my quest to be more social, and to satiate Chooch’s constant desire to play games, I planned a small game night for January 23rd. The theme was BREAKFAST FOODS, because God forbid I should just have a regular game night and let my friends bring a simple bag of Fritos. I had big hopes and aspirations for this game night: a waffle bar! some type of OJ punch! egg things!

But this before I knew we were getting a kitten(s).

So instead of an elaborate spread fit for the gods of the A.M., Henry half-assedly churned out ONE VARIATION of waffle (PLAIN) and made some crappy chili chicken dip to meet the “savory” quota, leaving me to my own devices to come up with other dips.

I went with the exotic Nutella; the opulent purple Funfetti frosting straight from a can; and a maple fluff worthy to coat the gullet of the worlds most renowned gourmands.

A/K/A maple syrup mixed with Marshmallow Fluff.

Thank god for my back-up plan: CAP’N CRUNCH PARTY MIX. And no I didn’t use a recipe! Instead, I concocted it in my head, at work, and bounced ideas off of Glenn.

“What else should I put in my Cap’n Crunch party mix?” I asked him.

“What all have you got so far?”

“….Cap’n Crunch.”

“……”

A day later, I shouted, “PEANUTS! Peanuts would go good in a Capn Crunch party mix, right?”

“Sure,” Glenn mumbled.

In the end, I went with honey roasted peanuts, pretzels, and then I attempted to drizzle white chocolate over it but newsflash: I don’t know how to drizzle white chocolate, so it wound up hardening very quickly and then I decided to just go with white chocolate clumps.

“I like how some of the pretzels have white chocolate on them,” Chris said in a very complimentary manner which I greatly appreciated.

“Thanks! I did that myself. They’re HAND-CRAFTED.” I literally was so angry at the white chocolate that I started smashing mounds of it against the pretzels as a form of torture. I showed you, white chocolate.

Then I dumped a bunch of sprinkles on it. Then I made Henry go and buy me chocolate chips, and hooray, that shit was happy to be drizzled.

It worked. This shit was teeth-rottening divine.

Keeping with my staunch theme of breakfast foods only, Kara brought delicious chocolate-filled croissants and mini muffins; Chronica brought monkey bread which we were all eagerly awaiting since they texted me a picture of it and my phone promptly got passed around; and JANNA WHO WAS LATE brought a French toast casserole. She was late because the casserole was still in the oven when game night was scheduled to start and I was like, “WHY DID YOU WAIT SO LONG TO PUT IT IN THE OVEN THEN JANNA.”

Whatever, it was really good even though she was an hour late.

And when Blake arrived with his posse, he was carrying a bottle in a bag and I thought to myself, “Oh my god, Blake is like an actual adult now! He brought something to game night!”

YEAH, A BOTTLE OF MAD DOG FOR HIMSELF!

We played Taboo first, because I forgot until the last minute that our Catchphrase broke a long time ago and we never replaced it, because why would we ever think to replace my FAVORITE GAME NIGHT game. Taboo is basically almost the same game but it just doesn’t feel right in my hands.

Game Night: Round One was kind of utter pandemonium because Janna spiked her casserole with Robitussin and some of us couldn’t seem to grasp the “every other person is on your team” concept and Chooch threw a fit at one point and there were close to four separate conversations going on while the person holding Taboo was shouting out clues and then Corey kept hitting the wrong button and Kara looked like she was about to lose her fucking mind.

However, there was a highlight! And that was when it was Henry’s turn and all he said was, “Erin has one…”

My mind reeled. I have many things! What was a thing that I have?! A complex? An estranged mother?

Meanwhile, Monica was already calmly suggesting, “A blog.”

First guess. And she was right!

This was right before Kara ripped off her face to reveal the Directionator. LISTEN TO HER READ THE DIRECTIONS AND FOLLOW ALONG, PEOPLE. Together, we can all get through it.

This is the first time I didn’t take a picture of my dumb beverage buffet. I made a punch that was supposed to be a screwdriver but it wasn’t (the recipes on Smirnoff’s website are lamer than your average lifestyle blogger) so I changed the name to Good Morning Punch. It was OK. Nothing fancy like you’d typically expect at my ragers.

Corey and I made Janna tell her harrowing tale of Robitussin codependency, like this was a surprise intervention. No one laughed nearly as hard as Corey and I did, if at all.

The last game we played was Likewise, and I was on a team with Erica (really hope that’s her name). She chose wisely because we dominated. If her name really is Erica though, I sincerely regretted naming ourselves the A+ Team when E2 was the clear choice. We did butt heads a quick second though when the prompt was “something unusual at the beach” and I wrote down “Igloo” because hello, that’s unusual. We had a slight argument about it but I got way and no one ended up getting any points for that round anyway, soooooo.

The last question was beautiful singer or something and I was trying to send ESP waves to Henry and Corey so that they would write down Robert Smith but they kept smirking at me confusedly, so we ended up going with the obvious choice of Justin Bieber, matched two other teams, and FUCKING WON.

BECAUSE THAT’S ALL I DO IS WIN.

And we all lost at Cards Against Humanity to a nine-year-old*, and then Chris taught Chooch how to crochet while Monica tried to get us to guess “Janna fondling breasts coated with Robitussin” during some late night charades.

*(To be fair, Monica tied with him.)

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The end.

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Dec 312015
 

It’s not that I do it intentionally, but I do go through phases where I just don’t really see my friends very often. We still text, etc. but sometimes the good, old-fashioned face-time is lacking.

Lately though, I’ve been getting in some quality hangs and I’m starting to remember what it felt like before I suddenly developed “social anxiety” which I’m not even sure I really have, to be honest. I was going to make some comment at this juncture about how it’s really Henry keeping me under his thumb but who would even believe that? For real though, December has been rife with good people!

In addition to Vintage Snack Attack, here are some more casual hang-outs I would like to be remembering:

  1. Indian Foods with Kara and Brian

Sometime ago, Brian and I randomly became friends via Facebook. We have quite a few mutual friends, so I guess it wasn’t all that random. But it was one of those deals where we friended each other and then never interacted. If we’re being honest, I thought he was too cool and popular for a lame-bag like me, so I would just occasionally like his posts but never comment, because I can’t hang with the big dogs.

I even struggle with the little dogs.

But then one day, Brian sent me a message and was like “PLEASE DON’T GET CREEPED OUT, BUT…” and already he had my interest because I love being creeped out. Anyway, he thinks that Henry might be his long-lost older brother because there is a resemblance that he just can’t un-see, and that is how the Facebook ice was broken. Plus, it turns out he has known my pal Kara for like, ever, so we decided that we all needed to go out to lunch. (We realized that we were both at Kara’s wedding in 2008 before we knew each other! Pittsburgh is small as fuck.)

Basically, what is happening here is that Brian is just going through me to become friends with Henry. And it’s cool. This is how it works. EVERYONE LOVES HENRY MORE THAN ME.

(That’s not a chip on my shoulder. That’s just a newly-formed dent from all the extreme KpopX arm moves.)

We were originally going to go to Zenith, but they were closed for a dumb private party, ugh. So Brian suggested Cafe Delhi in Carnegie because it’s really good and also because he can just walk to it. #selfish Turns out we all benefited from his selfishness though, because Cafe Delhi’s curry was like “Please fill a water park with this and let me intertube my way to obesity!” levels of greatness.

Brian took this picture of my Sophia ring (which I’m posting here without his permission because I do what I want on the Internet), which escalated fast to the point where he is basically my manager trying to launch my hand-modeling career.

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Anyway, Brian was just as cool and funny in person and he seemed to not think I was a complete dud! Now I guess I have to let him meet Henry.

Also, it was wonderful spending time with Kara in a setting where we could actually talk without me fussing over a table full of gelatin or our kids running around in flames.

2. Brunch with Lisa, oui oui

I was super excited last Saturday when Lisa changed her mind at the last minute and said, “No, instead of you coming over here to hang out, let’s go out!” I love hanging out with Lisa even if it’s just lounging around her house with coffee, but we really don’t go out very often (I get it — I had a toddler once!) so this was like a big deal. We decided to go to Tartine for some French culture. I was happy because right away, our waitress complimented my sweater and not Lisa’s.

“Go ahead,” Lisa sighed, and I frantically posted about it on Facebook. This is kind of our thing — anytime someone likes something of mine and not Lisa’s, I blow it out of proportion, and I know what you’re thinking: “Wow, that seems very out of character for you, Leo Erin.”

One of my favorite stories is from when Lisa and I went to Eat n Park during one of her visits home when she was living in Colorado, and the waitress approved of my dessert but not Lisa’s:

July 2007

Lisa temporarily resides in Colorado so I was excited to get to see her Wednesday afternoon during her Pittsburgh visit. We walked down the street to Eat n Park for coffee and dessert, the perfect pre-work sugar fix.

Our waitress Barb was an older woman with the easy-to-talk-to charm of a seasoned server. Lisa immediately overshadowed me with her big smile and confident voice.

“I’ll have the chocolate cake!” Lisa cheerfully ordered.

Barb smiled and jotted it down.

“And I’ll have the blackberry pie with ice cream,” I ordered not as cheerfully, but I sort of smiled. Which is big for me.

Barb’s body shook with pleasure. “Yes! Good choice!” she sang as she scratched my order on her pad with a flourish. “That’s my favorite!”

I smirked at Lisa after Barb retreated. “She likes me better than you,” I chided.

“What makes your pie so much better than my chocolate cake? I mean, it’s chocolate cake!” Lisa’s visage melted into a befuddled glaze.

“Chocolate cake is a menu mainstay, Lisa. My pie is a seasonal delight.” This seemed to distract Lisa long enough for me to continue droning on about my life’s conundrums. It’s nice to have counseling ears across from me sometimes.

Barb returned with our desserts and the reminder than I am, and always will be, better than Lisa. She set down Lisa’s plate with an unremarkable motion, but then turned to me with the fanfare of a queen’s arrival as she gently placed my pie beneath my fat face and took a step back.

“Look at that pie, would you? Oh, I hope you will enjoy it. It really is the best!”

I hesitated before crushing into the crisp sugary crust, unsure if Barb was going to stand there and gawk. She smiled once more and carried on with her rounds of coffee refills.

Lisa was absently slapping her cake with the back of her fork, scowling at me. “Enjoy your freaking pie,” she mimicked.

During our meal, Barb came back later with our separate checks. She was delighted to tell me that my check was special. “Lookie here! There’s a number at the bottom to call and complete a real short survey. Then you write down the code they give you and bring this back next time for a two dollar discount!” She clapped her hands together and held them under her chin, waiting for me to call my mommy and thank her for birthing me so that I could one day experience the jubilation of getting an Eat n Park survey check.

I feigned happiness for the sake of Lisa’s plummeting self-worth. “It’s because I was smart enough to order the delicious pie and not the boring cake,” using my words to further wheedle away at her ordering inadequacies.

We continued to pick away at our desserts and imbibe (too much) coffee, when Lisa spilled her water all over the table. Barb came running over with her rag and we all tried to make light of Lisa’s fumbling fingers.

“At least it didn’t get on her pie,” Barb sighed.

#NEVERFORGET

Anyway, Lisa and I both enjoyed our French brunches (she has some kind of ham crepes, but I had the Tartine Poire, into which I really wish I could face-plant right this very moment) and I made some Drake-inspired comment about how we started at Denny’s now we here, which was probably only funny to me but Lisa politely laughed anyway.

Our waitress looked so much like Shelley Hennig from Teen Wolf (and ex-Days of Our Lives!) that I actually wondered if it really was her and we were being secretly filmed for some “celebs doing blue-collared jobs” reality show. Lisa of course didn’t know who that was because she’s an adult, so I showed her a picture on my phone and even she agreed that it was uncanny and Lisa and I usually don’t agree on things like that, so this was a big day.

Bertrand, the cutest restaurant owner of all time.

Lisa and I definitely need to do this more often. Or at least have Henry make us fancy French breakfast shit.

3. Pittsburgh Hangs w/ Jason

Jason was visiting from Cleveland and penciled us in for a Saturday evening hang sesh. He was already in Dormont, so Henry suggested that we just go to Tom’s Diner, because it was raining really hard and who wants to drive in that shit, right?

I don’t think we have ever had the pleasure of seeing Jason so many times in one year — three times in the span of a month is pretty good! I guess this makes up for last March when I was in Cleveland with Janna for the Howard Jones show and completely dropped the ball on meeting up with him.

What I really want to remember about this night is how WELL-BEHAVED Chooch was being! I mean, not that he’s a menace, usually, but sometimes he can get ornery if the attention isn’t on him (he must get that from Henry). Chooch is a chronic interrupter. Have you met me? This is my GREATEST PET PEEVE. I hate being interrupted. Shut your fucking mouth and wait your turn. Put it on my gravestone for Christ’s sake, I don’t fucking care!

This is one of the reasons Chooch and I fight so much, is because he can’t just wait his turn to speak. He is obsessed with hearing his own voice! So I’m always flipping out and he’s just like, “THIS CAN’T WAIT!” and guess what?! Not once in however-long-he’s-known-words has it ever been “important” or an “emergency.” So I get on edge sometimes when he’s with us and we’re hanging out with people who don’t have kids, because you just never know.

But he was a real pleasure on this night, in that booth at Tom’s Diner, and he ate all of his idiotic food and actually seemed enrapt in everything Jason was talking about and then it occurred to me: of course he was enrapt. Literally all we talked about the whole time was music and the music industry and the magazine and Warped Tour. Why wouldn’t he be enrapt!? He is my kid!

And then Jason asked him what he’s been listening to lately, which launched a conversation about Bring Me the Horizon and Twenty-One Pilots. I don’t think I ever really had anyone to talk to about music when I was a kid, so it’s cool that Chooch does.

God, Chooch has it all.

I didn’t subject Jason to any pictures this time, but Chooch followed Henry into the bathroom and snagged this gem:

I think my favorite part of Tom’s was when Jason reluctantly promised that he would give the entire Carly Rae Jepsen E.MO.TION record an honest spin.

Later, I realized that the reason Chooch was being so quiet and respectable is because he was sick. Whatever, I’ll take it!

Here’s hoping January brings some more quality hang-times.

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Dec 152015
 

And maybe also: people-eating food.

Party People!

  • Janna
  • Chris and Monica
  • Kara and Harland
  • Cara
  • Angie
  • Blake and Aaron (and their two friends who came later but I forget their names because I had already had too much to drink by then)
  • Amy and Dick
  • Barb
  • Wendy, Shawn and Summer
  • Lisa
  • Corey WHO WAS LATE (j/k I knew he was coming late)

It’s a pretty awesome feeling to know that you have friends who will indulge your random whims. When I sent out the Facebook invite for this get-together, I didn’t anticipate that many people would be into it. Of course people were wary, and possibly also dry-heaving, but to my delight there was lots of gross recipe-posting and discussion about what to bring! My friends rule. I love you, Friends.

Even Wendy, who wouldn’t make jellied chicken salad.


Fonduing.

I would like to point out at this juncture that Wendy’s baby Summer is likely staring dreamily at the clown in the painting behind her, because I caught her ogling ALL OF THE CLOWNS in my house. It’s a treat to know that Summer, at such a young age, has opened up her heart to our misunderstood face-painted brethren.

That time Monica disapproved of Henry feeding Chris.

Bar had the best view in the house: Trudy’s ass.

We have some party-pleasing Xbox game called…I forget now…but up to 4 people can play along on their phones so while it looks like everyone in this picture is bored to the point of scrolling through Twitter, they were actually all playing inappropriate games with my inappropriate kid.

I told Wendy she could bring Summer because that meant Barb would come too. I do what I can.

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Welcome to the demonic possession portion of the night. Bomb shelter foods do that to you!

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Aaron told Lisa that she had a beautiful Jello mold. This boy is seriously invited to all of my parties from now on. Plus, he was very complimentary of my helter skelter interior design methods! Younger people get me. And after talking about an array of topics that covered OJ Simpson and the band La Dispute, it occurred to me that I’m not actually socially awkward at all, I just don’t know how to talk to people over the age of 25. Something to work on for 2016, maybe.

LOL, no.

That time the Bromance spawned a baby.

Shawn and I talked about mutual bands we like for awhile and it was really nice so I’m not mad at him anymore for saying that Kurt Travis sounds like someone’s pissed-off little sister.

OMG Cara and Angie both brought me succulents! I love them so much! (The succulents, I mean, although Cara and Angie are very nice too!) You have no idea how into succulents I am. Lol, never mind. You totally know. I named the one that Cara brought me “Dierdre Hall” but I’m still thinking about fitting names for Angie’s. I’m sure there will be an entire blog post about it, so stop back.

I thought that I didn’t get any photos of Lisa but then I found this one and rejoiced! I’m really sentimental. I’m sure she’s thrilled because I talked to her the next day and whined about not getting a picture of her and she was like, “You have a million pictures of me doing everything from being sexually harassed by two middle aged men at the .38 Special show to peeing in a McDonald’s bathroom stall. I’m sure you’ll live without one of me eating gelatin, too.”

She didn’t really say that but I’M SURE SHE WAS THINKING IT.

Ladies and gentlemen: My sister Amy and brother-in-law Dick! This was their first time at my house because they live in Ohio so usually we meet halfway when we want to get together, but neither of them had to work so they were able to attend! I don’t get to see them nearly as much as I would like, so I was stoked.

One of the highlights of the night for me was when Corey arrived just as Janna was on her way up the steps to go to the bathroom, and he literally PUSHED HER out of the way and yelled, “JANNA STOP I HAVE TO GO SO BAD!” and then bathroom-blocked her. And even better was that when he was done, she was about to make her way up the steps again but then I had to go really bad so she was just like, “Jesus Christ, go ahead,” throwing her hands up to my hole-y ceiling.

Fuck! It just occurred to me that there were people there that night who weren’t previously privy (I almost typed “poncheezied” which is a Dance Gavin Dance song, god get a clue) to Janna’s struggle with Robitussin addiction and abusive mother and Corey and I totally missed a prime story-telling audience.

Motherfucker.

Chooch entertained us with his rendition of “Bang, Bang” and I’m pretty sure this was the point where Monica was furtively whispering, “No really, NOW CAN WE GO?!” into Chris’s ear.

This was how I found Henry at the end of the night.

IN CONCLUSION, the Bomb Shelter Picnic was more fun than I anticipated. And not that I’m complaining or anything, but I’m kind of surprised that not a single person brought Spam!

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Dec 122015
 

Sometime back in October, I had on my Eavesdropping Cap and overheard Glenn’s work bro inviting Glenn to his Halloween party. “OMG I guess the Feud is officially over then!” I excitedly thought, because it had been AWHILE since he’s popped on over to monotone it up with Glenn. I guess my lunch date plan really did work after all!

Once Glenn left for the day, I giddily chatted with Todd and The Processor Formerly Known As Amber2 about it. I had it in my head that Work Bro’s soirees are like vintage key parties of yore so I started sending Todd and Amber pictures of people with stiff posture and fake smiles standing around gelatin castles and Velveeta-filled fondue pots. Then I started looking at gross Betty Crocker party food pictures, because I have hobbies.

Around this same time, my friend Kate posted a vintage recipe on Facebook for these curious things called Carnival Creams:

I was at once repulsed and intrigued. Ketchup in a dessert!? I love Ketchup and I love desserts, but…

Still, I couldn’t get this out of my head and decided that I needed to try it. This recipe paired with my imagination churning out visions of square Halloween parties made me realize that not only did I need Henry to make these, but he needed to make these for an audience. I needed to have a vintage food party and make other people bring disgusting nostalgia eats as well.

“It’ll just be a small thing!” I promised Henry. “Not a full-blown party. It won’t be stressful!” And he just closed his eyes, sighed, and mumbled, “What do I have to make?”

I wanted him to make like eleventy other disgustingly atomic abominations developed for bomb shelter supper clubs, but he was like, “I AM NOT MAKING FOOD THAT PEOPLE ARE NOT GOING TO EAT THAT IS WASTEFUL ERIN” so I had to try and find things that were gross but possibly edible, so tomato aspic (decorated with crawfish heads) and jellied chicken salad were out of the running. We settled on the Party Potato Salad below, because at least the inside would be edible.

The party was Saturday, December 5th and Henry did that thing that he always does where he left me alone at the last minute so I had to CLEAN BY MYSELF. Actually, I only had to straighten up the living room but I hate “straightening up” because it doesn’t fit my crooked lifestyle. Luckily, there was an early Penguins game on so that helped me make it through.

This picture has nothing to do with the party, but I took it while I was waiting for Henry and Chooch to return from picking up Blake and his friend Aaron. But this post is just about the food, so we’ll get to the people later.

Turns out, Carnival Creams aren’t that bad! I mean, you can taste the Ketchup. I won’t pretend like you can’t. But somehow, it works. The texture was similar to ice cream, and the almond and maraschino cherry bits on top really added a new dimension to it. Henry even had the forethought to buy pasteurized eggs so no one would get sick and die!

And then he used that topic as an opportunity to brag during the party about how he does, in fact, know how to pasteurize an egg on his own. OK Farmhand Henry. Go back to the barn.

Hilariously, the next day, my sister Amy commented on Facebook and said, “Those were bomb!” and then Lisa called me to tell me, “I can’t get over how good those Ketchup things ended up being” and then at work on Monday, Wendy was like, “I can’t stop thinking about those Ketchup things!” and I was like “INORITE?!” I’m so happy that they ended up stealing the show since the whole party was planned around them!

Guys, I “designed” those radishes! Henry was supposed to buy snap peas for me to make leaves and stems but he didn’t so, floating flowers it is.

The potato salad was literally preserved beneath of gleaming skin of mayo and gelatin. Get yo’ gag reflexes ready, party people!

And I did the pineapple too! I had to touch pearl onions a million times and it was disgusting. I was excited to bring in some of my succulents off the window sills because several of them are potted in perfect Goodwill nostalgia finds, especially Ted NUDEgent up there.

None of my parties are complete without at least one punch variety and this one especially would be a failure without one. I knew whatever punch I decided on would have to have sherbet in it. I settled for a lime sherbet with champagne and other crap, and it was a real crowd-pleaser! I barely had a chance to take a picture of it before Aaron was diving in. He and Blake came over about an hour before the party started, so he was getting pretty antsy for Punch Time. ME TOO, BRO. Parties stress me out.

Until I get sloppy.

Aunt Ethel just seemed like a good vintage name.

That cat food-looking shit in the upper left was Henry’s very own idea: deviled ham. “What? People ate this shit all the time back then,” he said as he plopped it onto the plate.

And that Jello salad up there was brought by Angie. It didn’t stand a chance once people discovered what it was: strawberry Jello pretzel salad. This is like a staple at Pittsburgh cookouts, plus it’s vintage-y too, so everyone was happy that there was at least one thing that wouldn’t haunt their dreams that night.

I MADE THESE! They’re vienna sausages with a generous dollop of Easy Cheese on top. I think Blake and Aaron were the only people eating those.

Wendy wouldn’t make the jellied chicken salad I sent her, courtesy of Octavia who I desperately wished lived close enough to attend, and instead brought something more on her skill level: salami wrapped around a cream cheese and horseradish filling. I hear they were a hit, though!

“You can’t go wrong with cream cheese,” Wendy said, and I would have to agree with that.

Kara, bless her heart, substituted soysage for the hotdogs that her Polka-Dotted Mac n Cheese called for. IT WAS DIVINE!

Chris and Monica made a Prosecco berry gelatin in a Han Solo mold and it was delicious. Aaron, the self-appointed food critic of the night, was really impressed with it. “Did you learn how to make this in France?” he asked incredulously.

“No, Pinterest,” Chris laughed. This was the point of the night where I deemed Aaron to be my favorite person in the whole world, and then Monica sadly said, “Well, Chris, let’s go home.” JUST KIDDING, THEY’RE STILL MY FAVORITES TOO!

I wasn’t able to get a picture of Lisa’s lime Jello salad before it was attacked, but it was the perfect color for this particular party, and I was really pleased with its addition to the table.

Stupidly not-pictured: The cheeseballs my sister Amy made (so good!) and Janna’s fondue pot that we thought she had left unattended with oil simmering in it, but it turned out it was beer because she was making BEER CHEESE, fuck yes. You can’t have a vintage snack attack party without a fondue pot, so Janna was like the unsung hero of the night.

(That originally said “herp” instead of “hero” and it took everything I had inside me to not leave it that way.)

OK, I’m splitting this into two parts because otherwise: picture overload. But what else is new. Next post: PEOPLE EATING FOOD.

(And no, my blog isn’t fixed. I have to put pictures on here the old-fashioned way which I forgot how to do so Henry had to do it for me. He has to call WordPress today because they haven’t been able to figure out what the problem is, so I told him to tell them I’m going to SUE THEM and he was like, “Yes, because that will make them really want to help us fix this.” And it’s funny because I’m sure whatever broke my blog is something that I did all on my own, because this isn’t some widespread WordPress epidemic.)

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Nov 062015
 

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Last night, Wendy-and-Summer, Debbie, and I met up with BARB at Villa Reale for her BIRTHDAY. Don’t worry, though–I didn’t go too far out of my way. I can walk there from work in like 3 minutes now that I accidentally know my way around town. (It’s right down the street from the library that I just discovered a few weeks ago!)

Wendy was late because she has a baby now so we just sat around and talked about her for a while and it was really therapeutic for all of us, I think.

(Seriously, though, Wendy’s baby is the sweetest and I almost want another but then Henry reminds me that I’m only capable of loving one person at a time, and I’m not sure how Chooch would feel when he suddenly wasn’t that person anymore.)

Anyway, then Wendy and Summer arrived and everyone decided to get pizza except for me, because I’m the difficult one, so I got spaghetti while they all scratched their heads and started scribbling out pie charts to determine how they were going to split up their pizzas while I just sat over there with my own personal meal and a fork.

I don’t like sharing!

Barb talked about how one of her dreams was to be an over-the-road truck driver, and I think it was Debbie who said she would be scared to sleep in the truck though because what if a serial killer came after her but I reasoned that sleeping in the cab would probably be safe because serial killers aren’t going to mess with truck drivers since they could possibly be brethren, unless you’re some Aileen Wuornos-wannabe. DISCUSS.

God, I missed having these pointless conversations at work. Because now that I sit near Todd, Glenn, and Amber hadababy, our conversations are Mensa-quality; we discuss the Pythagorean Theorem and its many proofs at least 3 times a week for no reason other than we’re fucking geniuses.

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My favorite part about the Villa is that you have to go down a creepy staircase to the basement in order to reach the bathroom, which is decorated in 1980s shades of peach, and the Designing Women probably would have felt very comfortable stepping inside to powder their noses.

I always think of my friend Alyson when I’m in public restrooms. When I was pregnant and we were scoping out places to have my baby shower, I sent her a picture of the loo in the Elizabeth Fire Hall party room (also in the basement!!) and it was a really big deal at the time because that was back when I had my pink Motorola Razr and Henry was an absolute tyrant about my data usage.

I thought of her last night too, when I had to climb a step in order to board the elevated stall. I think she would have appreciated the regal privacy of it all, like literally being on a throne.

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Barb’s gift from me was one of my succulent propagations. This is the first one from my nursery that I’ve given away! It’s a Black Prince, and I gave it to her unnamed, so let’s see what she decides on. The tea cup is from Wendy’s baby shower!

There was a big debate yesterday over whether or not I should get a gift bag for the succulent. Actually, the debate was basically just Glenn telling me it was bad idea and that it wasn’t going to fit, because in his monotone, monochromatic, monosyllabic world, gift bags are monosized, and that monosize only fits thimbles, I guess.  So I said, “You’re wrong” and went out to CVS where not only did I buy an adequate-sized giftbag, I USED THE SELF CHECK-OUT.

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Barb, I did all of these things for you! And here you thought you were only getting a stupid plant, but this gift had LAYERS: an argument with Glenn, a flagrant display of my newfound independence at a store I knew how to find on my own, memorabilia from Wendy’s shower… what else? Dirt that Henry bought, I guess. So much went into this!

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In addition to placing bets on how long it will take Barb to murder this baby succulent, let’s add the phrase “pics or it didn’t happen!” to her repertoire of “Things That Were Popular to Say in 2010 But Barb’s Just Learned How To Use Them.”

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Man, it was so nice to see these ladies. I mean, whatever, Wendy will be back to work in a few weeks and I’ll be over it after the second day, probably (kidding!).  I miss Barb fucking up the Roll call emails and enabling my Diva mentality, and I miss Debbie’s spot-on snark sessions and her ability to fall while standing perfectly still. I’m just glad that we’re doing an OK job at keeping in touch, although Barb needs to step it up!

Barb drove me home, not narrating the drive nearly as much as I hoped she would, although she did offhandedly say, “We’re gonna take this Liberty exit here…” while trying to exit the parking garage. After she dropped me off, I was walking up to my house and a big fat gray cat was licking itself on my sidewalk! He ran off down my driveway, so I followed him.

“What are you doing?” Barb shouted from her car across the street, waiting to pull out of the parking lot.

I’M CHASING A CAT BARB, WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE.

(Look, I don’t see her every day anymore, so when I do, I have to milk it for every last drop of blog fodder. I LOVE YOU BARB!)

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Nov 042015
 

In addition to plopping tears all over the place, eating cookies, and having my dancing skills mocked, there was also lots of group picture-taking and haunted basement exploring! Chris stepped away from her own celebrations to PERSONALLY escort Chooch and me down into the basement. Oh yeah, that’s us, being escorted to a place by the BRIDE.

“They literally don’t care what you do around here,” she said, nodding toward the front desk. We poked around a little but come on—it’s me and Chooch. We came back later with Lauren, Tony, Nate and some dude. Nate and some dude were too scared to venture very far, but the rest of us kept exploring further into the depths of the George Washington Hotel and it was AWESOME.

There was a sunken event room down there and I was obsessed with it. It had a medieval vibe. 

But parts of the basement definitely should have been cordoned off from the public, like this FLOODED STORAGE ROOM, WHAT:

Chooch: I’m over here with Lauren. I’m fine! I don’t have a crush on her now or anything!

Serial killer work bench.

Honestly, I was half-afraid that we were going to become reluctant witnesses to a murder down there.

But then it was time to go back upstairs for more pictures! You can tell I’ve been drinking when I’m actively participating in having my image captured.

The bartender took this of us when we were waiting for Chooch to retrieve Lauren and Tony for a Table 15 photo. April and I both agree that we have no recollection what we were doing in this shot, other than obviously performing the Waiting for Chooch to Retrieve Lauren and Tony jig.

And then she took this wonderfully blurry group shot of us, but that’s OK. IT’S STILL A CUTE PICTURE.

Fun fact: two days before the wedding, I said to Henry, “So…are you cutting your hair for the wedding or….?”

Henry, without looking up from his phone (honestly, nothing he looks at on his phone is interesting!) said, “I don’t know…why?”

“Oh no reason, I just don’t want to look like I brought Billy Bob with me as my date,” I answered with passive-aggressive cheer.

Without saying a word, Henry stormed out of the house and came back with his woodhick follicles shorn into a respectable, modern style.

Meanwhile, Henry dozed off at the table while we were excavating George Washington’s bowels. Chris took this from her cousins’s phone and I am forever grateful!

(“I WASN’T SLEEPING!” Henry whined.)

And then this happened (I need to buy a real copy!):  

*****

Sometime around 11, the DJ announced that the reception was ending but that the party was going to move to the hotel bar. We couldn’t stay (THANKS CHOOCH) so we went over to say our goodbyes, which is when Chooch accidentally pulled Monica to the ground, which in some customs is considered GOOD LUCK for the marriage. 

Just saying. 

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Oct 302015
 

After cocktail hour, we finally got to hug Chris and Monica during the receiving line thing and you know that I:

  1. really like them
  2. was properly liquored

because I was really excited about this part! I don’t know if Henry hugged them too. He was behind me and I wasn’t paying attention. I’m going to call him at work right now and find out.

Me: When we were at Chris and Monica’s wedding, did you hug them in the receiving line?

Henry: Did I hug who?

Me: Chris and Monica! [No, Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers, you idiot.]

Henry: Um….[really long pause] I don’t remember.

Let’s just say that he gave them the good ol’ Service Salute. Whatever that is. Hopefully not an euphemism for something disgusting.

Luckily, Table 15 was super easy to find because it was the first table we had to walk past. (If that was intentional, thank you!) We got to sit with Nate, April, Lauren, and Tony and it was basically the best table ever. (In my opinion, anyway. There could have been some intense debates about Victorian funerary customs and vintage wheelchair exchanges at another table that I was unaware of, and then that would the best table ever.)

Chooch sat down and was like “Fuck yeah, bread!” and immediately cleaved it with all the grace of a basic Jack the Ripper.

Before dinner was served, a few people went up to give speeches, at which point I had some bizarre allergic reaction to something in the air and while it probably looked like I was crying, it was actually my eyes trying to wash away whatever was poisoning them, like I had just looked at a picture of a nude Donald Trump.  So if you saw me sniffling and dabbing my eyes with the tissues that were handed out before the wedding ceremony, that’s what was going on. I wasn’t like, touched by all of the loving words or anything sentimental like that. Please.

We had the perfect view of the first dance! I wonder why that guy was taking a picture of me.

The first dance is the part that makes me nervous when I think about my future wedding, and by future I mean future LIFE because I highly doubt I will ever experience the emotional stress and financial burden of planning a wedding in this current lifetime. No I know, you’re right. I shouldn’t think that way….

…I should just dump Henry and find someone dumb enough to want to marry me! I mean, as soon as Henry finishes all of my current and upcoming projects, that is. He’s still under contract.

Bitch, please.

Chooch’s infamous cup of urine.

As a starter, we all enjoyed a cup of delicious pumpkin soup. Chooch rejected it immediately because he won’t eat anything that’s not a chicken nugget or full of Red 40.  I had some plans to chug his cup after I finished my own soup, but then I was distracted with ridiculing Henry for not using the right spoon. You can put a different shirt on him, but the blue collar is in his blood, you guys.

Next, we had a salad, which Chooch also refused. I think Henry probably ate his, though. Henry can’t stand seeing salads go to waste. I always leave onions and tomatoes behind, which Henry predictably vacuums up with his mustachioed Hoover-hole.

“Why are people doing that?” Chooch asked when various people started tapping their glasses with silverware.

“To get Chris and Monica to kiss,” I explained, at which point Chooch nodded that he understood and reached for a knife, which Henry snatched from his fingers with a quickness. Have you met my kid? He does nothing gently and we really didn’t feel like picking shards of glass out of our hair, clothes, and eyes that evening.

For my main course, I got a giant pile of sauteed vegetables. It was a beautiful sight! I’m used to getting skimped when I select the vegetarian option, but I was presented with so much food that I actually couldn’t finish. Thumbs up, G.Wash Hotel! Those mashed potatoes, tho.

Sometime during all of this, the Puddles Pity Party cover of “Royals” started to play and I got so happy. I turned toward the brides’ table to illustrate my approval with a thumbs up and Chris and Monica smiled back, flashed a peace sign, flapped their arms, I can’t remember. But the point is I SHARED AN INSIDE MOMENT THING WITH THE BRIDES AND YOU DIDN’T.

Because you weren’t at the Puddles Pity Party show with us. And that is when Chris said to Monica, “I want to have this song played at our wedding.” I WAS THERE WHEN THAT IDEA WAS BUT A SEEDLING.

Those are not tabled ghosts in the background. It’s just some linen protecting the cookie table from us vultures.

Chooch’s view of Table 15.

I think this was right after Nate said, “OK kid, let’s put a moratorium on the Minecraft talk now.”

If it were up to Chooch, he’d have pulled a chair up to the brides’ table. Henry had to keep stopping him from going over there and bugging them and it was kind of hilarious. I mean, I told him leaving the leash at home was a bad idea.

In lieu of a wedding cake, Chronica opted for donuts and it was perfect. Henry actually made the display for them and here’s how that happened:

One night, Henry and I were sitting on the couch when Chris messaged me with pictures of donut displays and asked, “Do you think Henry could make us something like this?” and I said out loud, “Pfft, yeah, this is definitely something that you could make” and Henry was like, “Wait, what am I doing? Can I at least see it before you tell them yes?”

“I already told them yes, but here, you can look if you want.”

And luckily it was something that he was able to do. Then he thought he was King Shit because he got to have Facebook messaging parties with them and I wasn’t included. Whatever, Henry. I got to help Chris paint pumpkins so I contributed just as much wedding labor as him.

(Yes, it’s a competition.)

I mean, the donuts were fabulous, but can we talk about that cookie table though? I can’t believe I didn’t get any photos of the actual table once it was unveiled, but I can confirm that it was quite the spread. The cookie  table is one of the only traditional Pittsburgh things that I really do enjoy. Because who doesn’t love a veritable cookie buffet? And then you get to fill a carry-out container before you leave! Pittsburgh weddings rule.

And lemon squares rule. And snickerdoodles. And those chocolate cookies with powdered sugar that get me so stoked on life whenever I see they’re an option. And they even had Star Wars chocolates! Also, the coffee was spectacular. Like, drink-it-black because it’s so spectacular. The next morning, when I was nursing a slight hangover, I murmured to no one in particular, “I miss that coffee from last night.”

I wasn’t ready to have this picture taken, but whatever. I’m not even standing up straight! Thanks for all your hard work, Henry. I know lifting a heavy iPhone requires much effort.

This photo brings me so much joy because it’s the perfect representation of Chooch and Monica’s frenemyship.

Let’s be serious for a second though: I’m really happy that Chooch was included in the festivities because he loves those girls. And also, while Henry spent most of the evening half-asleep and alone at the table, Chooch and I had ridiculous amounts of fun running around, exploring the bowels of the hotel (next post!), and BEST OF ALL: dancing to our jam, “Call Me Maybe”!!!!

In case you were unfamiliar, Chooch and I are huge Carly Rae Jepsen fans. “Call Me Maybe” was our anthem during the summer of 2012 (I mean, duh) and we had some real interesting, impromptu dance parties in honor of it. So when I had to fill something in for the “What song will get you on the dance floor?” question on Chronica’s RSVP card, it was a no-brainer. Literally zero thought was required. However, I had forgotten about that, so Chooch and I kept stalking the DJ until finally Chris intercepted us on one of our clandestine missions and said, “You don’t have to request it! It’s going to get played, you wrote it on the card, remember?”

We were out in the hall when it came on and made a beeline for the dance floor, where all self-awareness and ability to move our limbs in a reasonable manner evaporated.

  

 

Again, that phone is super heavy for Henry to hold up. We’re lucky he had the strength to capture this 5 second video for us looking like derelicts on the dance floor.

And then this beautiful mother-son moment was ruined when Chooch scoffed, “No wonder no one asked you to prom! You suck at dancing!”

“I had a boyfriend so I didn’t need someone to ask me! I didn’t go to prom because I didn’t WANT TO GO TO PROM!”

God, what a jerk. And in the middle of our song, no less!

I do suck at dancing, though.

This is the dance that Chooch said he “nailed.” Sorry to say it, son, but you got your mommy’s dance moves.

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Oct 282015
 

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When Chris started working at the Law Firm in 2013, we became pretty fast friends. And after I met her girlfriend Monica, they both became two of my favorite people of all time, and I just can’t speak highly enough of them. Chris proposed to Monica later that year and I was so excited for them, like genuinely excited!

(Being proposed to. I WONDER WHAT THAT FEELS LIKE.)

I even had the honor of taking their engagement pictures on what felt like the coldest day of the winter. But it was totally worth it!

Chris ended up abandoning me last fall when she left the Law Firm, and we did the whole “Keep in touch” song and dance, and you know how that goes. I don’t ever see anyone I used to work with at other jobs, which is really depressing, but I guess that’s life.

(You can only invite old co-workers to so many game nights and pie parties before you have to accept the fact that their unwillingness to RSVP might actually supposed to be sending a message.)

But in Chris’s case, we actually have kept in touch and I am so thankful for that because she and Monica have become very great friends to not just me, but Henry and Chooch, too. We still have ice cream dates and Monica still ruthlessly trolls Chooch, and I even got to help paint some pumpkins for their wedding. Which, you know, was really just manual labor masked as a casual hang-out sesh, but still — I’ll take it.

(I was a Girl Scout, OK? Making friends is important to me!)

Anyway, all of this is a long-winded, cavity-inducing preface to say that on Saturday, we attended the wedding of Chris and Monica, which they perfectly dubbed early on as Chronica2015. It was a beautiful evening at the George Washington Hotel in Washington, PA and now I’m going to bombard this space with a ton of pictures because I was giddy, punch drunk, and in a frenzy to capture as much as I could.

I was very intent on having the three of us subtly match. I bought my dress first, a Modcloth masterpiece* of flowers, foxes, and squirrels. I wore maroon tights with it, so I bought Chooch a pair of maroon slacks (lol, slacks) and a gray shirt, and then Henry bought a maroon dress shirt with a gray tie to match Chooch’s shirt.

“I just want us to look like a cohesive unit!” I cried, and they were just like STFU, woman.

Everything was looking pretty good until Chooch jacked up the whole palette with his idiotic bow tie from Spirit Halloween. Oh well – you win some, you lose some.

*(LOL, no. Modcloth is so misleading. The dress fit me so awkwardly in the arms and on the way to the wedding, I was tugging at it and squirming around in the passenger seat, crying about how I was never going to make it through the evening, but then I got drunk pretty quickly and was fine. Modcloth (n): clothing that fits fine once you’re too drunk to notice that one arm is longer than the other.)

I was mildly concerned that Chooch was going to be That Kid who disrupted the ceremony with his unstoppable motor mouth or ill-timed vomiting (you never know what Henry feeds us!), but he sat quietly and was genuinely interested in what was going on, and also checking my face constantly for tears gave him purpose because he’s a jerk.

(I did cry. Kind of a lot. It was just so wonderful and the readings were perfect! One was from the Princess Bride, I think!)

A few days before the wedding, I asked Chooch if he was cry. I assumed that he was going to snap, “No!” right away, but instead, he considered this for a few seconds before answering, “I’m not sure yet. I haven’t decided.” And then, “Are there going to be snacks?” Like he was already planning on stuffing my meat cleaver purse with snack-packs of Goldfish and Go-gurt.

Texting Nate the above picture was how I let him and April know that we had arrived.

Both brides were absolute beauties.But in all honesty, they could have just walked down the aisle in clothes dirty and tattered from an afternoon of being chased through a muddy forest in Texas by Leatherface and still looked amazing because, and here’s the part where you’ll want to hold on to your gag reflex, they had that TRULUV thing going on. I kept looking over at Henry and thinking, “should we do this or nah.”

But then my Magic 8 ball cracked and that blue ink shit got in my mouth and I died.

The ceremony was fast-paced and succinct without feeling rushed. All of the weddings I’ve attended as an adult have been pretty snappy, but I definitely have terrible childhood memories of sweating for an hour on an uncomfortable church pew during family weddings. Catholics, man.

Then it was time for cocktail hour! Or, as Chooch referred to it: Snack Time.

PRESENT. Henry wrapped it.

Cocktail hour was held upstairs in the space outside of the ballroom. I ran straight to the bar and grabbed the signature cocktail: apple cider margarita, yes. I sucked it back real quick and Henry gave me the “Watch it!” face that fathers are born with.

I switched to wine after this because the apple cider margaritas refused to be sipped slowly.

The hotel lobby was way too fancy for Henry. The front desk wasn’t even behind bulletproof glass!

I helped paint some of those pumpkins! Chris gave me cake to take home in return, so it was pretty fair.

Chooch chose the very spot to sign, because why wouldn’t he. Henry reluctantly signed it much later in the evening because he hates doing things at the same time as us. God forbid anyone thinks we’re a COHESIVE UNIT.


Chooch stuck a pineapple slice from the “snack table” onto the rim of his pineapple juice and said, “Nailed it.” Then he proceeded to call it his cup of urine for the rest of the night.

Far in the distance, you might spot one Maestro Chooch sitting at the piano while Lauren and Tony helplessly look on. I eventually went over to fetch him and luckily, the din was just loud enough that probably no one heard him actually tickling (or tackling, in his case) the ivory.

Aerial shot of the ceremony room — it was so pretty!

Henri the Manservant going to the car to fetch Chooch’s book.

Henri the Manservant fetching us more drinks.

His book kept him busy.

LOL, just kidding. There were way too many adults around for him to pester.

Chris said that one of the portraits in the hotel is supposed to be haunted, but it’s shockingly not this one. I feel like Chooch would be good at haunting a portrait.

Ladies room selfie from the haunted basement! My all-time favorite thing to do at places like this is EXPLORE. Thank god Chooch was there because Henry was like, “No, we were assigned to Table 15, and that is where I’m staying.”

I’m glad that Monica let Chooch be invited, because he and I had a ridiculous amount of fun.

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The infamous Table 15. Dun dun dunnn.

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So autumnal and cozy! I loved our Table 15. It was The Law Firm table, rounded out by Nate and April, and Lauren and Tony. I was happy to not have to struggle with awkward small talk! However, if you ask Henry, I was hammered before we even sat down, so I probably would have done a fine job carrying on a slurred convo about various skeletons in my closet and the time Henry viciously chucked a muffin at my head, because that’s what I do when I’m drunk: make people feel uncomfortable from my real talk.

Lots more photos to post! Check back soon! Unless you hate weddings!

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Oct 172015
 

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Pie Eaters:

  • Chris and Monica
  • Angie and Sammy ;)
  • Kelly, Zac, and Judy
  • Steph and Kian
  • Sam + one of her friends and her dad
  • Kara, Harland, and Theo
  • Robbie & Nikki
  • Elizabeth and Rachel
  • Patty and Tim
  • Jackie and Tim
  • John, Jennifer, Hailey, Abby and Gavin
  • Gayle, Lily, and Faithann
  • Maggie, Ivan, Annabelle and Lila
  • Amber and Brian
  • Erin and Brian
  • Amber and Teddy ;)
  • Meggan, Olivia, and Sophia
  • Alex, Kelly, and Finn
  • Elaina, Lena and Evey
  • Alisa-and-Cara-4ever
  • Rob and Nancy
  • Sandy, Ben, Elena, and Zoe
  • Janna
  • Shawn, Jess, and Anais
  • Sean
  • Wendy, Shawn and Summer ;)
  • Lisa, Matt, and Gigi

OK, trying to not be too cheesy (quichey if we’re keeping with a pie theme?) here, but maybe my favorite thing about the pie party MIGHT be the people. I know, it’s crazy to think about. There are actually some people I like! The entire afternoon was like a perfect pie filled with all the various berries in my life: work berries, childhood berries, Internet berries, family berries…this is like a rejected inspirational poster. I need to watch Faces of Death a few times and then come back and finish writing this because I’m clearly losing my identity.

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My  favorite thing to do is take pictures at my parties when people aren’t prepared because I love the somber faces juxtaposed with background festivities.

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In this picture, I like to imagine that Gayle’s granddaughter is including “I dunno, some strange party for pies?” in a Snapchat story.

(I still don’t like Snapchat.)

 

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My favorite part of the pie party, and this made Henry roll his eyes and groan, was when Tim came over and asked me how Riot Fest was. I must have lit up like a red light district in Amsterdam because no one ever wants me to talk about Riot Fest, let alone broaches the subject on their own! THANK YOU, TIM.

Sigh. Riot Fest.

I miss you.

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I just reunited with Angie a week ago, and I was so stoked that she arrived near the beginning of the party and stay for most of the afternoon! And her dog Sammy was freaking adorable. Chooch “won” him in a bet but Sammy was like, “Nope, I go nowhere with the pink-haired kid.” Smart dog! And in the background of the picture, you can see Nikki and Robbie, Judy, and then at the next table, Rob and Nancy. I have known Rob on the Internet for at least nine years, back in the LiveJournal days. We’ve definitely gotten to know each other better through Facebook though, and I was happy that he and his wife finally made it to a pie party! They brought an apple pie pizza, and you know how I love unconventional and creative pies!

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Alisa announced their arrival by slapping my ass when I was fluffing the pie table (looks matter to me, OK? I’m just naturally a very vain person); it scared the fuck out of me and I experienced a split second of anger because I couldn’t imagine who…but then it was just Cara and Alisa and I felt relieved. I don’t see these two broads nearly enough and every time there’s a party happening so I can’t talk to them as much as I would like, which is why we’re going to go out soon, RIGHT GUYS?

Also, if you’re ever in the market for a tutu or other kid accessories, you might want to check out Alisa’s Totally2TooCute Facebook page!

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Here we have Gayle demonstrating how everyone looks at me at work. (Except BARB – she only ever looked at me with dire reverence, adoration, and awe.)

(Except for one time when she was in a mean mood and got snippy with me when I said I didn’t want to be in charge of the fall food fest we were having that month at work and her biting words made me cry so I went into Wendy’s office and said, “Why is Barb being such a BITCH today!?” and then Barb found out she upset me and began repenting, much like Gayle when she forgot my last birthday.)

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I hate it when Henry to talks to people and I don’t know what’s being said!

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Tim and Jackie looking adorable with Bambi Sickafoose. This was my first time meeting Tim and he has some strong Henry-esque qualities, one being that he was able to endure a table full of girls talking about boys and dating, while still quietly enjoying his pie.

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When Wendy arrived, every person from The Law Firm dropped their forks and engulfed her because BABY SUMMER > pie.

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In a shocking twist, Henry wore a shirt in a color not invented by a 2-year-old mixing together all the paints in a $5 watercolor palette. Also, I know for a fact that in this picture, Henry was talking to Sandy and Alex about the Pittsburgh Blogger Cookie Exchange they both roped me into joining by pointing out that it’s not like I’m going to be baking any of the cookies anyway, and I was like, “Good point guys, sure, I’ll join!” and then my next conversation was with Henry, letting him know that he will need to make 6 dozen cookies at some point in December.

6 dozen totally doesn’t seem like a lot.

“Yeah, but you’re going to pick some ridiculous cookie that costs a fortune to make, I know it,” Henry grumbled. This is probably very likely to happen. Stay tuned, I guess?

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Monica thinks she ruined this picture of Chris and Amber2‘s baby Teddy, but I think she adds a certain je ne sais quoi to it.

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Kara, Elizabeth, and Sandy’s backs are all in this photo and I’m angry with myself because there is not one picture of their faces from that day. I’m not as good as shoving my camera in people’s grills as I used to be.

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SEAN CAME TO THE PIE PARTY! I haven’t seen him in a hot minute, and all the Law Firm people were stoked on his appearance.  Here he is posing with Amber1 and her boyfriend Brian who I just met for the first time and already like him a lot because Amber taught him how to gush over me and we all know those are the kind of people I like best. FAN ME WITH YOUR INVISIBLE PALMS, PEOPLE.

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This is the scene where Angie uses Connect Four to teach my nine-year-old how to gamble.

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I love everything about this picture, but mostly that the FAMOUS CHERRY PIE is nearly devoured in the forefront. That pie.

That goddamn pie.

…………………….

Anyway. Now that I’ve changed into a dry shirt, the girl all the way to the right in the photo arrived earlier in the day with her dad and I was thinking to myself, “OMG some random people FINALLY took my Instagram and Twitter invitations seriously and showed up! This is fucking fantastic! The pie party is famous! I hope they don’t have chainsaws behind their backs!”

But no, it was just a friend of Henry’s niece Sam, who wasn’t there yet.  Her dad was extremely friendly and started asking me all of these questions about the pie party.

“So, is this for a fundraiser?”

“No…”

“Are you selling the pies?”

“No…” (BUT MAYBE!? I could use some extra concert ticket cash….)

“So…it’s just for people to eat pie?”

“…yes?”

“Oh wow, that is an excellent idea!”

He was literally DELIGHTED about this. It was pretty adorable. I told him he was welcome to grab a plate, but he said he was going to come back. That’s what they all say. And actually, they usually do now that I think about it. I had a Cure party once, I think it was in 2000, when the Cure was nominated for a Grammy (they lost, because fuck the Grammy’s) and I invited some guy who was walking past my house. He said he had to go and buy cigarettes but that he would come back.

AND HE DID.

I have no idea what his name even was, but I have a picture of him in one of my photo albums. So, it happened.

Anyway, much like Cigarette Boy, Sam’s Friend’s Dad came back later, with a pumpkin pie! Holy shit, pie is like the best social device ever.

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Henry never sword fights this gently with me.

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Ladies and gentlemen, Wendy’s pink shoes.

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Wendy and Teddy and Leopold. If you don’t know who Leopold is, then just go away. Go. I don’t want to know you.

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Robbie and Nikki, baker of the truly amaze blackberry cream cheese jalapeno baby pies. Also, super cute couple! They came to visit us a few weeks ago and while we sat around drinking fancy beer that I could kind of swallow without too much of a grimace, I realized that in some ways, their relationship has the dynamics of a young Henry and Erin. The good dynamics though, don’t worry. Otherwise, what an insult!

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Look at this adorable family! I’m so glad that Matt and Lisa managed to swing by toward the end of the day, because it was Gigi’s birthday and we all sang happy birthday to her! (Well, technically I lip-synced because I hate singing Happy Birthday.)

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It always makes me so happy to see so many of my favorite people from different areas of my life colliding under the pretense of pie. I know so many of my friends have really busy lives, and the fact that they make an effort to stop by for these things doesn’t go unnoticed by me. For instance, I had no idea that my good old friend Shawn (a/k/a Wonka) was planning on making the treacherous trek to the Vortex in the South, otherwise known as South Park.  He brought his girlfriend Jess and his daughter Anais, who was wearing the cutest cat sweatshirt ever and I want one in my dumb size.

Also, Chooch has been hanging out a lot recently with these twins he’s known since first grade. They come to all of his birthday parties, but then over the summer, their mom started contacting me to set up play dates, and you guys, after being a parent for nine years, this is the first time I have ever associated with a school mom! I mean, in a positive manner, that is. (Catholic School clusterfuck, never forget.) I have been very tentative about this because I am so afraid of other moms not liking me and then not wanting their kids to hang out with Chooch. (I’m not kidding, the shit that went down at that Catholic school gave me a real tight complex.) But, I invited Meggan and the girls to the pie party and they came and I was happy to get to talk a little bit with her!

This was a pretty huge deal for me. I even told her that she was the first mom I became friends with on Facebook and she was pretty surprised.

I think I’m getting better at this parenting thing.

Nine years in.

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The Budding Bromance. I was so happy that Wendy brought her husband Shawn with her because Henry needs friends. Shawn is really good at building things and I kind of want them to start a We Can Make Shit For You business together but then when would Henry have time to make the shit that I want him to make?

So, just forget it.

I kept trying to snag a photo of them together, but Henry’s not (always) stupid and foiled my mission every time.

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Jess and Angie, a new friendship forged while eating pie! If that’s not heartwarming then you truly are a sociopath.

But you can still come to the next pie party! I don’t discriminate.

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Monica always wears the most apropos t-shirts. Also, one of my favorite moments was when Chooch screamed, “Chris! Monica tried to stab me with a knife!” Those two are the poster children for Frenemies, so much so that when Chooch found out he’s invited to Chris and Monica’s wedding, he mumbled, “Does Monica know? I’m surprised she let that happen.”

I think they should do a comedy together. Something like Curly Sue. I could see them joining forces and being shrewd scam artists, with lots of hilarious bickering in between. And probably someone dies at the end.

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And what’s a pie party without missing children? Some kids are just too good at hide and seek. Don’t worry, everyone was found at the end of the day.

I don’t think a single one of us managed to avoid falling into a deep pie coma that day.

WHO’S EXCITED FOR THE NEXT ONE?!

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Oct 142015
 

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After taking last year off, the pie party returned triumphantly to celebrate its fifth year. I thought that was a pretty big deal and wanted to make buttons to commemorate the occasion, but as usual I got side-tracked and Henry failed to build me a button-making factory, or at the very least, produce a button maker for me. I might still do it though. BUTTONS FOR EVERYONE.

You can wear it next to your Poor Henry button.

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We didn’t get our usual pavilion, and at first I was sad about that but this one ended up being better. It was smaller, but when you figure people are coming and going all afternoon, plus all the kids are on the playground, we don’t really need all the space that our usual pavilion offers. So I only cried about it for a few minutes and then moved on with my day.

When we arrived at the park on Sunday, there was a family already there, making themselves at home. The dad was grilling next to the pavilion while the mom was pushing the kids on the swings. How quaint! Now get the fuck out. We rolled up and started pulling all of our shit out of the car and piling it on the tables, so the dad was like, “OK, I see where this is going” and moved all of their darling picnic accessories out of the pavilion and to a picnic table down by the playground. It’s a free country, so we let them nervously eat their All American lunch while Chooch slowly swung himself on a swing across from them, wearing a hoodie and black sunglasses and looking like he probably had a switchblade in his pocket.

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When Robbie and his girlfriend Nikki arrived with their adorable and ridiculously delicious black raspberry cream cheese jalapeno mini-pies, Nikki said that she was making a sign for them but Robbie stopped her and said, “Erin will have signs there, trust me.” AND DID I. I found my Pie Party 5 notes after the fact and forget that I had originally wanted to carve the pie names into apples (lol) but instead I printed out mini versions of my Cherry’s Eyes painting, which had become the unofficial logo of this year’s party, and then I taped them to colorful mini Popsicle sticks. HELPFUL HINT: those things bled into the pies. It’s been three days though and I’m still alive. Hopefully you are, too.

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For our “outside the box” pie entry, Henry made sweet potato whoopie pies with maple marshmallow buttercream. They were OK. He could definitely work on some gentler assemblage, that’s for sure. Also, he almost didn’t make them.

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Everyone was like, “What makes this Romanian?” and I was like, “It’s great at gymnastics? I don’t know! Ask a gypsy!” It’s no secret (lol) that I’m obsessed with Romania so I knew I needed something at the pie party to represent my inexplicable affinity.

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Our third representation was a rosemary pear pie with cheddar crust. I don’t think I liked it but I can’t remember.

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I was about to brag about blowing up the P I E balloons but then I remembered that it was actually Chooch, being helpful for once. So never mind. I strung them up, though!

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Since this is our fifth tango with pie worshiping, you might think that we have the wrinkles all ironed out. And surprisingly, you would be mostly correct! I have learned from my mistakes, that’s for sure.

One big mistake I usually make every year is asking someone to come early to help me decorate. This never works. No matter what, said person (usually Janna) doesn’t arrive until an hour after the party starts so instead of just doing it myself, I’m “just doing it myself” while also being extremely bitter and angry. This year I only planned as much as I could handle on my own, and it worked out well. I finished decorating and laying out my succulents with little to no sweat dotting my brows like salt-buttons and I was still in a relatively OK mood by the time I finished!

(There was one minor explosion, and that was when the staple gun ran out of staples and I assumed there were no more staples so I started Hulking around in a fury until Henry calmly filled the staple gun with more staples because, would you look at that, he came prepared for once!)

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Another is relying too much on my phone to take pictures. This year, Henry conveniently left my portable charger thing at home so my phone was pretty much at 5% all afternoon, leaving me no choice but to use my actual camera. (And we even remembered to charge the battery!) I made a pointed effort to play around with the settings before anyone arrived to compensate for the frustrating pavilion lighting. #fauxtographer

Probably the biggest mistake I made the last time was being too ambitious, and by that I mean I put too much on Henry’s plate, baking-wise, and he was one angry motherfucker. I had him make two pies, two different types of mini-pies, three different types of pie pops, and apple pie flavored popcorn. Because it was the fourth pie party and I wanted him to do pie four ways. Get it?

It was a pretty big fail.  We were both so stressed out and tired that we could barely enjoy ourselves at the party. It always starts out as such a fun idea when it’s in my head! I love the planning stages, but when it’s time to start making it a tangible thing, it’s like TEARS MURDER BLOOD HEAR TATTACK.

This year, I went easy on Henry, and myself. I mean, yeah, I still gave him three things to make and when I came home from a haunted trail at 9:30 on Pie Party Eve and noticed that Henry hadn’t made the whoopie pies in my absence, I might have raised the roof a bit, and not because I was dancing to old school R&B jams. I never pass up an opportunity to remind Henry that my fingernails are deep in his balls, so he got to bakin’.

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I made that bunting myself. I really hate crafting.

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The key to proficiently pork out on pie is PORTION. I like to fill a plate with thin slivers of many types of pie so that it essentially equals one slice. That way I get to hopefully sample everything. LOL, who am I kidding? There are no rules. Just grab a plate and stuff your face and do your best to convince yourself that you’re not going to feel like you’re in gastro hell later.

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This year, we had several savory pies! Kelly brought a taco pie, Patty brought two zucchini pies, and Elizabeth cooked up a vegetarian chili pie—major hat tip to her for that one. It was wonderful and helped me avoid an early sugar crash. Sandy brought not-pie which consisted of a veggie platter and chips. Salt is such a great counterbalance to pie! Especially when most of us were foregoing lunch in favor of turning our bodies into pie trashcans.

 

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Amber1 made a delightful S’mores pie which I have never had before and it was a big hit! Gayle brought apple pie, apple donuts, and apple cider from the Apple Castle apple festival! She’s still sucking up to me for MISSING MY BIRTHDAY. (Her self-assigned penance has been to give me an unbirthday gift every 30th since July. This arrangement has been working out well for me.) Kara brought a shoofly pie that she bought from a real Amish man at a farmer’s market last Friday and I didn’t manage to snag a piece! I hate myself.

We had pumpkin pie, an apple pie pizza from Rob, French silk, chocolate peanut butter, pecan, pistachio pie, Angie’s ricotta pie (light and lemony!)…so many pies.

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Carnage of Crust.

But! If I had to play favorites, there are two that make me salivate just at the sheer thought, and those are Chris and Monica’s ground cherry pie and Maggie’s cherry pie. Two completely different, totally winning cherry pies.

I may have mentioned to Maggie a few weeks ago that cherry pie is the most under-represented pie in pie parties of yesteryear, and it’s also my favorite type of fruit pie. I got Gayle to cut me a piece because right place, right time, and I was really happy to find that it was still warm! It was perfection. Not too tart and the crust was all buttery and grandma-approved. When Maggie told me it was her first attempt at a cherry pie, I was like STFU liar! But no, it’s true: Maggie was a powerful pie princess in a past life who heroically brought war-torn countries together with her baking prowess. So my only question is why doesn’t she bake us for us at work more often?!

And Chris and Monica’s ground cherry pie, good lord. Have you ever had a ground cherry? I only first heard of them last summer when one of my co-workers brought some in from the farmers market and said to me, “I heard you like weird fruit.” And how! So, ground cherries are yellowish-green and bigger than an average blueberry but smaller than a grape. They’re wrapped individually in husks and have a very mild flavor. At first, I was like, “These ground cherries are bomb!” But then I started to taste something familiar in them and it eventually dawned on me that they had a faint tomato flavor. I’m not a big fan of tomatoes on their own so I started to feel turned off by these not-cherries.

Until Chronica turned them into a sweet ass, bitchin’ pie. AND THE RECIPE WAS MENNONITE! I was so stoked to have Mennonite shit AND Amish shit at my pie party!  You guys know how open-minded I am about that stuff. If you ever see Chronica, give them a high five for ground cherry skills.

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The pie table is always completely jacked by the end of the day. I was bitching to Henry about how nice and pretty it looks until everyone starts plopping their pies down and then we forget to bring the little rustic buckets I use to put the forks in, so there’s an ugly bag of plastic forks junking shit up, and then Henry doesn’t care about paper plate aesthetics and brought leftover Halloween plates and super ugly, generic white plates with an ugly blue design that completely clashed with the autumnal tones of the burlap, leaves, and pie stands, but no! No, I’m not going to get all stressed out over this. I’m going to hand Sandy an ugly plate when we run out of the others and make some tight-lipped comment about how Henry ruins everything and then I’m going to move on from that moment of rage and instead of storming off into the woods and punching a tree until bark is protruding from my knuckles, I’m going to have another piece of pie.

OR IS IT PEACE OF PIE.

 

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Oct 122015
 

I’m not trying to say I’m some weirdo 50-year-old man living in a letter man jacket, but my high school experience was pretty awesome and I’m one of those rare breeds who genuinely enjoys reminiscing about those lost years. Of course there was drama and heartbreak and weird family bullshit, but the amount of fun times, crazy experiences, and really interesting friends I had definitely outweighs the bad. Some might say I even peaked in high school! (My personality and social skills have been on the fast decline ever since.)
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Back in high school, my core group of friends consisted of Lisa, Angie and Martha (née Melissa). Given our first names, the obvious moniker for our crew was L.A.M.E. There were some boy members too, like Russ, Evan, Lawson, and Justin, but they weren’t cool enough to change the acronym. Girls rule, boys drool, obvi. Some of my best high school memories involve these people, and I always start to get just a tad bit nostalgic for those days in autumn, because let me tell you: we knew how to do haunted house hopping right.

Lisa, Jason, Jason, Angie, Jason. I believe this was at Phantoms in the Park.

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Henry LOVES my LAME stories. J/k. He rolls his eyes at them pretty hard and then smirks but this is just because he’s jealous that I actually had friends in high school.

 

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I loved being part of a group. I loved it so much that I even made a newsletter for us! Granted it was short-lived, but at least I made the effort to keep our group abreast of each others comings and goings. (I even rolled up each individual newsletter like a scroll! I don’t half-ass these things, guys.)


Lisa and Angie helped me get settled into my first apartment in January of 1998, when we were 18.

Sometimes we would let other people hang out with us too, like in this case, my friend Shawn.

I would usually invite That One Person to my parties that completely killed the vibe, which is why everyone always looks like they’re at a funeral in my party pictures. Typically That One Person was someone that I had just met in a chat room or literally invited in off the street. At this particular party, I distinctly remember it was my Iraqi next door neighbor Abdul, who was in the States to go to PIA – Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics, and who my mom wanted me to call the FBI tip line about years later because she’s a racial profiler, but I low-key kind of wondered about him myself.

Anyway, my point is, these guys were used to my awkward social gatherings yet they still came around because Tru Franz, yo.


Seriously considering the ceiling Slinkie motif for my current home.

I lost touch with most of the LAME crew after high school, except for Lisa. Barring a few hiatuses due to geography and life in general, Lisa and I have managed to maintain a pretty consistent friendship. (It always blows my mind when someone willingly sticks by me for longer than three years! That’s usually the shelf life of my friendships because I’m so stupidly annoying and whiny and melodramatic and probably you could add a lot worse things to that list depending on which person you dig up from my friend graveyard.) But then over the summer, Angie posted an old group photo of LAME + our silent members on Facebook and it spawned a comment thread full of nostalgia and “I miss you”s and “We should”s. So I sent a group message to our crew, minus Martha who lives in Florida now but hopefully she will visit soon, and Russ who isn’t on Facebook. We all agreed that meeting up would be fantastic, and Lawson said that Russ was on board with it too.

But, you know how that goes.

That conversation wound up dead in the water, but then a few Friday nights ago, I was bored at work (Friday night late shift, you guys; the worst) so I resurrected the convo and BAM – plans were made to meet up at our old Denny’s hot spot less than a week later.  All day long, I was so excited for this to happen. I hadn’t seen Angie in over 10 years, and it had been even longer since I saw both Lisa and Angie together! Probably at one of my awkward parties in 1998. Lawson had to unfortunately back out the day of, but Lisa and Angie made it. I even snagged the corner booth in the back for us because I got there too early. (Story of my life.)

The level of comfort I felt was off the charts. We talked about our current lives and cracked up over old English project memories and there was definitely some gossip thrown in for good measure. Something terrible happened though! I always pride myself on having the best memory out of everyone I’m friends with—probably because if I write every goddamn thing down, and back in high school, I was VIDEOTAPING everything too. One might say I’m a little obsessed with preservation. Out of all of my friends, Lisa is probably the worst when it comes to remembering things. Sometimes I’ll call her and say, “Guess who I saw from high school?!” and then it’s like we’re on a really boring game show where I’m trying to help her guess who for a brand new washer and dryer. Anyway, on this night, we got on the aforementioned subject about how I was always pulling in strangers off the street, etc, and she said, “Do you remember when I was with you and you picked up that hitchhiker?”

Now, I definitely had a hitchhiker problem for several years, this sick compulsion to pull over and cart them around, and at one point it got so bad that I would actually drive around on highways SEEKING THEM OUT because death wish, I had one. But I didn’t remember Lisa ever being with me! She kept talking about it though, about how pissed she was, how it happened on the side of 79, and it started coming back to me. I began having a vague recollection of a blue-collared man getting in my car and then Lisa and I having a mild argument about it afterward.

Yes, that sounds about right.

And then Angie brought some letters and post cards I had sent her over the years and started reading them out loud. Lisa was like one gigantic eye roll at this point and I was fucking loving it. In case you were wondering, I haven’t changed much.

In 1993, I was in love with a man in Morocco and the sad part is that I remember this VERY CLEARLY and even the fact that Inner Circle’s “Sweat” was playing on the radio in the shop he was working in when I first saw him, what the fuck is wrong with me. And the waiter in the hotel in Capri, 1997? Yup, remember him too. Sorry, Henry!

And I still make my hearts like that, except mostly only with one strike-thru now, in case you were wondering.

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Angie started reading this one letter I wrote her right after senior year, where I tell her in painstaking detail what my job at Olan Mills Portrait Studio entails and then SLICKLY delve right into a SALES PITCH. OMG I am definitely the same person. I try to trick Glenn into buying a painting from me pretty much 8x a week.

“Oh my god, Erin, what are you even writing about?” Angie cried, continuing to slough her way through my handwriting circle-jerk. Honestly, I was just in love with my handwriting and would start transcribing the ingredients of my omnipresent Slim Fast meal bars if I started to run out of original thoughts to scribble. And then she paused and asked, “I don’t know what letter this is…” I looked to where Angie was pointing and with that faux-exasperation that everyone loves to hate about me, I sighed, “That’s part of a PARENTHESIS, Angie. GOD!”

“Well, I didn’t know that!” she laughed. “There’s this weird line through it—-”

“Because that’s how I do it, Angie!”

Lisa was just like, “Oh my god.”

I get dramatic sometimes. Sometimes Lisa’s presence exacerbates that and 1996 Erin wants to come out and play (and whine and pout and cry and be bossy). It’s a familiarity thing.

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LOL at my Precious Moments stationery and “A-Sexy Nemov” giving me the BEST birthday present when he took his shirt off at the Gymnastics Gala, OMG. I think this was Summer Olympic mania in 1996. I texted this to Christy and neither of us have distinct memories of loving this random Russian gymnast, but we both agreed that it sounds pretty typical of us. Especially the “A-Sexy” part.

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We totally overstayed our welcome at Denny’s and I loved every minute of it! Now we just need to drag Martha back from Florida and convince Lawson and Russ (and Evan if he’s not too cool for us now that he owns a tattoo shop — the same place I got my Marcy tattoo, actually!) that we won’t annoy them if they come hang out with us. (I mean, I can’t really promise that.) I think they should all come to my house and help me give Henry more gray hairs.

P.S. The Vegetarian Dinner Party of 1996. NEVER FORGET.

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Aug 272015
 

Our final day in Savannah was the best one. Octavia graciously invited us over for quite honestly the best meal we had on the entire trip – fruit salad, sweet potato hash with sausage (and a version with faux-sausage for me!), cheesy grits, eggs, and fried green tomatoes. And coffee in pretty cups!

All prepared by her husband, Dustin.

I’m drowning on my own drool (and not someone else’s, for once, you know, when I’m out whoring around) over here just thinking about it. I am always so terrible at hospitality issues. For example, if you were visiting Pittsburgh and came to my house for breakfast, I would hand you a Poptart, or guide you down the street to Eat n Park.

And that’s on a good day!

Octavia and Dustin’s kid, Tallulah, immediately glommed on to Chooch. I absolutely love when this happens. PAYBACK, CHOOCH.

Although, he only just pretends to be distressed by this. Deep down, he loves the attention. (But you guys, would you look at how freaking adorable she is? THOSE CURLS, THO.) They got along really well, if you don’t count the time Chooch was pushing her outside in a swing and accidentally slammed her into a tree, ugh.

Octavia’s house is stimulating in all of the best ways. They have two cats and a dog, and an entire room of instruments. It’s a musician’s wonderland and they told Chooch to have at it. He was like, “Seriously? You want me to make noise? YOU’RE TELLING ME I CAN MAKE NOISE?!” They very nearly acquired themselves a son that day.

OCTAVIA EVEN PLAYS THE ACCORDION. These people are swimming in talent and I kept hoping some of it would waft over my way.

And then she showed me some of her mixed media pieces and I was just like, “OK, when can we be sister wives already or nah?!”

As much as I was enjoying talking about art and music and our dislike for other mothers, it was getting later in the afternoon and we needed to hit the road. The plan was to spend the night in Charlotte, NC and continue on our way home the next day. Chooch gave Tallulah one of the birthday balloons that Octavia used to decorate our hotel room, and when that one was whisked away into the tree tops, he gave her another. Sometimes Chooch is not a dick!

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As stoked as I was to gallivant around Savannah, this is what I was really hoping to do in Georgia. Casually talking all morning and into the afternoon was what exactly what I wanted and was honestly the zenith of the trip for me. I have a tricky temperament and there are a LOT of incompatible personalities out there for me. And I’m not saying that it’s not me, it’s everyone else — I am voluntarily admitting that I can be tough to get along with. (Just ask Janna. It takes a saint!) I start out fairly introverted and observant, until my comfort and trust levels go up. (Which doesn’t always happen.) But I knew within minutes of meeting Octavia that it was going to work, that conversation was going to be easy and two-sided, and that I was going to learn a lot from her.

Also?! SHE WAS BORN IN ROMANIA. We were bound to become friends at some point in our lives and I left her house that day feeling really good about things, and also determined to have some of my ribs removed so I can fold myself in half to better fit inside her luggage the next time she visits Romania.

Kismet! I’m so grateful that we met, and apparently, I can thank Barbara and her fucking denim jacket for that.

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Just a few days ago, Octavia texted me a picture of the purple balloon, still branch-snagged. “Miss you,” she texted. I MISS HER, TOO. :(

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Aug 202015
 

I haven’t done a throwback Thursday in a few months, and today I came across an old LiveJournal post from 2006 about the first time my friend Kara and I met in person!  10 years and three babies later, we’re still friends! Thank god for Myspace and awesome taste in music. Kara, I can’t believe Blogathon alone didn’t scare you away!

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Sometime last summer, I received an email notification that someone wanted to add me as a friend on Myspace. I was surprised to find out that it was neither a:

[a] screamo band from Idaho
[b] girl trying to break into porn
[c] married middle-aged man looking to just chat, he swears, with a young chick

Instead, it was a real life girl, Kara, from Pittsburgh who actually seemed to be adding me out of sheer interest and not to bolster a high friend count. A glance at her profile told me that she could type and spell properly, and didn’t have an annoying layout spewing out the latest Mariah Carey single, forcing me to scroll up and down in search of an off button. We began sending messages back and forth, making empty promises to meet up real soon for coffee. I didn’t have much faith in that, because the only other time I tried to meet someone from MySpace, she blew me off three times in a row (once was because she got her period).

But then a coffee place opened up in my town of Brookline (and it was about time since the only places around this dump to get coffee is an Eat n Park with awful service or a varied selection of gas stations) right by Pizzarella, no less! I figured this would be a great opportunity to meet Kara, until I sent Henry there one day for a smoothie and he was told that they had no refrigeration. The second attempt to humble them with my patronage was shot down when I wanted a cappuccino and was told that their microwave was broken. If they’re making their cappuccinos in a microwave, I don’t think I want one after all. I’m glad that I discovered this before having Kara meet me there, since I feel like a representative of Brookline and taking her to a bunk coffee house would be sure to hurt commerce.

Another month went by and we finally solidified plans to meet yesterday at an Eat n Park near her part of town. She was already there when I arrived and I feared she would flee in horror as I waddled through the doors with the thunderous steps of a pregnant Godzilla. The most recent picture of me on MySpace was taken in November, when my face was half of what is now, so I hope she wasn’t too startled.

As we walked back to our booth, I begged her not to laugh as I kept my jeans hitched up with clenched hands to prevent them from slithering down my hips. Still, the crotch was halfway to my knees by the time we were seated. I embarrassingly told her that I’m between sizes in maternity pants.

After the initial awkwardness of saying hello 3 dozen times, laughing nervously, and trying to decide what to order (which is hard when two pages of your menu are glued together by an unknown and hopefully not unsanitary substance) everything went well. We lounged around in the booth for two hours drinking coffee (YES I HAD DECAF, GOD) and laughing at our waitress who looked like Gerard from My Chemical Romance. Then the smoke alarm went off and everyone sat there, staring stupidly at one another. “Should we leave? Is there a fire?” The host slouched past us and mumbled, “I wish this place would burn down” and judging by his lax movement, we figured we weren’t in any danger and there was no need to evacuate. But oh, that was the most excitement I had experienced all week!

I don’t think that I scared Kara away (I’ve learned through trial and error over the years what subjects to avoid) and she claims (CLAIMS) that she had a nice time and would like to hang out again. I hope so, because I have this feeling that all my old friends are going to head for the hills once my chitlin’ is born. She said she likes babies!

That night, Henry treated me like I had just come home from 1st grade after making my first friend, and gave me that “I’m so proud of you” look. I realize that I’m a bit reclusive in my pregnant, unemployed state, but really, I’m not that bad. OK, I am. It’s just that you think you have a lot of friends until you actually need one of them, so I started to pull away from some of them. I’ve been very disenchanted with my selection these days.

Then I took my prenatal vitamin this morning like a dumbass (I always take it at night) and threw up so fiercely that I was seeing bright starbursts around the edges of my vision and one of them morphed into Cap’n Crunch, which is the second time I’ve seen his likeness outside of a cereal box (the first was within the scalloped texture of my old apartment’s ceiling).

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Aug 182015
 

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A bunch of years ago, like 26 or 7, I met Octavia through Etsy. Specifically, it was my fauxtography Etsy shop, Appledale. No one ever paid attention to that shop of mine, full of lomography before iPhone apps made that shit cool (and so much easier and cheaper to achieve that vintage effect, bastards), accompanied by my signature idiotic short stories.

But Octavia noticed. And she sent me the greatest convo ever; a meaningful, deep virtual handshake from one person happy to meet another person of like-mind. I will never forget how excited I was to read it! We started writing back and forth; I was enchanted by her own art and deranged imagination. She is incredibly talented.

Thank god for the Internet! I feel like if the Internet didn’t exist, then Octavia and I probably would have met through the world of pen-palling. Somehow, someway, we’d have found a way to meet!

This meet-up has been in the pipes since we bought the Williamsburg vacation package thing at the 2013 Big Butler Fair. Because clearly, Williamsburg, VA and Savannah, GA are so close to each other! The first half our trip was fun, but this was the part that I was really looking forward to, so when I woke up the morning of my birthday, I was S-T-O-K-E-D!

We had plans to meet Octavia at the Bonaventure Cemetery at 11:00am that morning. I was so nervous on the way there! I love meeting people but I am beyond awkward about it and sometimes that awkwardness never goes away because that’s just who I am, you know? Be nice.

Luckily, Octavia was chill as FUCK, sang-froid in a green dress. She claims she is awkward too but I definitely didn’t sense that, thank god, because then I would have just fed off it and it would have unraveled into some socially depraved banquet of stutters, ticks, and twitches. Instead, I felt at ease. I mean, once we got the obligatory “now is where we hug as normal people do” act out of the way.

I didn’t take any pictures of Octavia at first because I was scared to, but those will come later!

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There is one super huge difference between Octavia and me: she actually knows shit about where she lives. Out-of-towners visit me in Pittsburgh and ask me simple Yinzer 101 questions like, “What river is that?” or “How are the Steelers doing this year?” and I have to politely decline answering.

That’s accomplished by either shrugging, grunting “I dunno”, or a combination of the two. But Octavia taught us shit about the war and the Masons and Johnny Mercer, and then a ton of stuff about NATURE because she went to college for botany so immediately Henry’s ears perked. You know how he gets nature boners. Especially when she turned her nose up at the moss issue. HENRY HATES MOSS. Now he had someone to hate moss with him!

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While we strolled around the cemetery grounds, we talked about Jonny Craig (I mean, duh; I’m sure Octavia couldn’t wait to have THAT conversation in person) and the nightmarish insects that live in Georgia, holy shit. We saw salamander things and skinks:

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The skinks really freaked me out but Chooch was trying to figure out how to turn his t-shirt into a skink carrier. Then we walked under a tree with berries on it and I cried, “WHAT ARE THESE, OCTAVIA!?” while trying to get Henry to eat one. Now I can’t remember what she said they were. But I think the final verdict was that they were not poisonous. Don’t worry, she didn’t let me eat any of the mushrooms I saw, either.

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I also learned that you can eat that ballsack thing in the middle of the palm thingie! “Like, right now!?” I asked.

“Well, I mean, you have to cook it first, probably,” Octavia patiently explained before I had the chance to whip a fork out of my bra and dig in. God, Octavia was determined to prevent the cemetery from becoming my test kitchen.

At some point during our aimless journey across Bonaventure, a butterfly popped out of a bush and Chooch groaned. I relished the chance to rat out Chooch’s wussy phobia and blurted out, “Chooch is afraid of butterflies!”

“Do you know what the German word is for butterflies?” Octavia asked Chooch. “Schmetterling!”she yelled like a witch in an uncensored fairy tale.

“SAY IT AGAIN!” I begged, and she did. It was glorious! I couldn’t wait to go back to school work and talk about my educational vacation!

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There was some douchey guy there leading a walking tour and they were everywhere we wanted to be. Octavia hated him too for the same unsubstantiated reasons as me (he just looked like an asshole and I hated his blond swoop-y hair and monochromatic clothes) and that was when I knew for sure that was the real deal.

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“Ow, my head.”

“Ow, my back.”

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We got to see Little Gracie! This is one of the most popular graves in the joint, and Octavia said that it used to be more easily accessible but there has always gotta be those assholes who like to be destructive. So now you can’t get beyond the gate for a closer experience. I was just happy that we got to see her at all, and I wished we had brought something to leave behind for her.

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I suggested leaving Chooch, but Henry said no. :(

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Being in Bonaventure was surreal. Cemeteries are one of the few places on this earth that I feel at home (and also Warped Tour, duh) and Bonaventure has always been one of the cemeteries of my dreams. Finally getting to see it, on my birthday no less, was amaze. And the best part was that instead of getting sucked into some touristy walking tour, or blindly stumbling around on our own until we started fighting within 20 minutes, we got to meander about at our leisure with Octavia. Which was great because it was like 299 degrees and walking any faster than I already was probably would have set me alight.

And you know what else? Henry checked in here on Facebook, which means he was excited in his own weird, silent way and wanted his “friends” to know that he was living it up in a famous cemetery in Savannah. Sure, he probably would have chosen a nap over this in a heartbeat, but I think he at least recognized that it’s not the worst thing he could have been doing that day.

Until I forced him to pose for this, that is:

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I took this with my phone that day because I needed to be able to plaster it all over social media ASAP, because: HENRY ON THE GRAVE OF HIS ROLE MODEL, NUGENT, what a great birthday! Of course this inspired Chooch to tell Octavia the story of Henry at the Ted Nugent show, which I was actually trying to tell her at the same time, but Chooch always has to steal the show…AND MY FRIENDS! He kept hijacking the conversation by bringing it back to video games and I was getting so jealous.

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“Are there crocodiles in there?!” I asked Octavia as we looked down over a small hill at the water below.

“No,” she assured me. And then she added, in the most non-patronizing tone possible,”and they’re alligators, anyway.” Something about her delivery made me crack up. The people I need most in my life are the ones who will gently correct me when I’m wrong and also make sure I don’t eat poisonous berries. Octavia exceeds expectations in both departments.

I just asked Chooch what his favorite part of Bonaventure was and he said when Octavia told us that sometimes there are dolphins in the water there. He hasn’t learned Henry’s favorite response yet, which is: “When we left.”

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We waited until it was time to leave to look at the map, because that’s smart.

From here, we continued on to downtown Savannah so that we could eat food that was cooked in a kitchen and not picked up off a boneyard floor, and Chooch was thrilled that Octavia got to sit in the back with him SO HE COULD CHEW HER EAR OFF SOME MORE. Ugh. I’d steal his friends to show him how it feels, but…kids and I don’t get along.

I must have said, “UGH!” in response to Chooch’s charm at least 87 times that day. Ugh!

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