Sunday, March 23, 2008

Let Them Eat Cheesecake

On one of Clay and I’s early dates, we discovered a mutual love/obsession for fantastic cheesecake. He promised to introduce me to the best cheesecake I’d ever had--and he took me to Claim Jumper. I’ll tell you what--after sampling the divinity of the White Chocolate Raspberry dream-on-a-plate at Claim Jumper, I’m telling you that if you can’t eat this piece of cake, should just fast for the rest of your life rather than subject yourself to another slice of Sara Lee or Cheesecake Factory.

A few months later, during our first visit to San Antonio, I discovered that Clay’s mother shares our love for cheesecake. This was discovered during a great evening around the dinner table discussing “Great Cheesecakes We Have Known.” It was all too fitting that the next afternoon, at our stop in Fredericksburg, Texas, I picked up a fantastic recipe book called, The 50 Best Cheesecakes in the World. It was like--there was so much cheesecake love in our midst--that the book just couldn’t help but reveal itself to us.

I am now endeavoring to make them all.

I started with a Marzipan Raspberry Cheesecake. And for the record--anytime there’s an option for a light alternative, I make a substitution...if there are the 50 best cheesecakes to be made, we have to save enough room for all of them. So using low-fat cream cheese, low-fat sour cream, and low-fat cottage cheese, I made a slice of heaven. The raspberry sauce was a little intimidating, requiring me to strain freshly blended raspberry puree through cheesecloth in order to remove all the seeds. (messy!) But when I sprung the cheesecake onto some unsuspecting friends at a dinner party, it resulted in 6 of us consuming an entire cheesecake in one evening, my friend Jimmy eating three pieces and saying, “I don’t even normally like cheesecake, but come on--this is lowfat.”

Today, Clay and I were introduced to cheesecake #2--a ginger pear delight with freshly grated ginger and freshly grated pear. When my roommate saw it sitting on the counter, she actually thought it was store-bought. The result--absolutely delicious.

So why do I share all of this? Because a wedding is a perfect excuse to share what you love with 250 of your best friends...and what do Clay and I love? Cheesecake. So be prepared, because on August 2nd, you will not be served just any plain old white or chocolate corn syrup and white flour will partake in a fine array of dazzling cheesecakes.

Okay, I’m not going to handmake 50 cheesecakes for you to try the 50 best...that would be obsessive...but I bet there are at least 50 of you reading this, so...if you all schedule a visit to the Utley home in the fall and request a cheesecake as your parting gift, I bet we can check every one off the list in a hurry.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Perfect Dress

So I found “The Perfect Dress.” It happened a lot more matter-of-factly than I thought it would. Believe it or not, the heavens actually did not part when I found, “The Dress.” Believe it or not, a choir of Spanish monks did not emerge from the storeroom to sing an “Ode to the Dress” in Gregorian Chant. Believe it or not, my mother did not spontaneously burst into tears when I emerged from the dressing room in “Theeee Dress.” How dare I make such a claim to have found “The Dress” during a perfectly normal dress fitting in a perfectly normal dress shop, where a perfectly normal salesgirl would assist me in diving in and out of perfectly normal white gowns.

So if none of the romanticized heaven-beaming-down-its-joy signals revealed it was, “The Dress,” then how did I know?! I have no idea! I JUST DID! I guess it’s because it’s the first dress I tried on that I didn’t necessarily want to put back on the rack. I just wanted to walk around in it and view it from every possible angle in every possible mirror. And I wanted to sit and drink tea with my pinkie finger pointing to the sky. And--I really wanted Clay to see me in it. (Don’t worry--he still has to wait till August 2nd.)

After about ten minutes of parading around in “The Alleged-and-Potentially ‘The’ Dress,” Mom asked (matter-of-factly), “Heather, is this the dress.” I was momentarily confused. How could she ask such a thing? Obviously not! There were no choirs of angels! There was no fissure in the sky through which a booming voice was saying, “This is Heather’s wedding dress with which I am well pleased.” No, it was just my mom’s voice asking, “Is this the dress?” A simple yes or no question. How anti-climactic!!!

But this whole wedding business started by saying a very simple “yes” to a very simple question. (The question was, “Will you marry me?” just in case you were a little slow on the uptake there.) So, it strikes me that weddings are very beautiful and terribly romantic, and in the midst of all the romanticized beauty, they’re also very simple. Simple in a good way...but sometimes romantic and over the top makes a better story:

Boy loves girl. Girl loves boy. Boy asks girl if she wants to get hitched. Girl says, “YES!” Girl begins wedding plans. Boy plays video games. Mom flies to town to go dress shopping with girl. After days of searching over hill and dale, the perfect dress remains elusive. Exhausted and heartbroken, mom and girl take a bit of respite by a glassy pond near a golden meadow. A tear drops from girl’s face into the glassy lake, causing ripples to softly move across the water’s surface. Suddenly, the heavens part and a radiant and perfect dress emerges up from the pond and choirs of angels come towards the girl singing “Gloria in Excelsis Deo!” Mom turns to girl and says, “Is this the dress?” Girl cries out, “Yes!” pretty much happened just like that.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Nuns Having Fun!

I'm in my second year of using the fantastic Nuns Having Fun 12-month Calendar. Every month, I look up and think, "Those crazy nuns. I wonder what they're going to do next." This month, the nuns are doing karate, and the caption says, "Everybody was Nun Fu Fighting." Those crazy, silly girls. Whenever I remember to bring the camera cable back to work, I'll show you a fine nun-filled karate kick. For now, this will have to do.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Wedding Website

I know the blog's been in sad repair lately...but to appease you, you can go read my newer, cooler, mac-ified's Clay and I's wedding website, and I'm pondering moving my blog that way as well...mostly because our domain name is cool: