Jul 9, 2009
Cookover in PA; Food, Drinks, and BEEPS!
Last year, a small group of members from bakespace.com met up in a restaurant in Richmond, Indiana for the day. It was so much fun to finally get a chance to meet the people that I spend hours and hours chatting with in the forums on a daily basis. Well this year, a group of us met in Pittsburgh, PA. In the photo above, from left to right; Margarite (aka Spryte, PA), Sheryle (cookiebaker, OH), Cara(NJ), Kathy (soccermom,MI), AnnMarie(PA), Jennifer (motherof2boys,MI), Michele (luv2cookmb,NJ), Karen (gigi,PA) and Me (ddpie,IN). Martha(NY) was also present but MIA for the pic. Karen had graciously invited us all to her home in Pittsburgh, PA. for the weekend. (brave girl) There were 9 members in total, and some of us brought husbands or guests and we all stayed at nearby hotels. We're all wearing the cutest cupcake aprons that Karen had made each of us. She also made all of the guys aprons too. From left to right, we have Jim (PA), Michael (OH), Dan (PA host), and my Jim (IN).
Jim and I arrived at Karen's house Friday afternoon to set up the cake and other baked goodies that I brought. We were greeted by Karen (that's her on the right), her mom Margaret (love her!), husband Dan (Dan the Man), and Spryte (aka Margarite, also from PA). Karen's home is absolutely gorgeous and when I rounded the corner from the dining room and saw her kitchen, I'd thought I'd died and gone to heaven.
Seriously, a foodie's dream kitchen. Not only does she have top of the line appliances, but it was stocked to the hilt. The woman has everything...and I mean everything. Spryte had arrived earlier in the day to help with the food preparations and was like me, all wide eyed and glazed over with envy. We kept asking Karen, "do you have....such and such". We soon learned to just say, "where is your...such and such" LOL That's Spryte, on the left, carving the pineapple boat that was to eventually hold a fruit dip.
With Karen being the typical Italian, she had apparently intended to feed us until we burst, having prepared a full line up both Friday night and Saturday day and night. She diligently planned dishes utilizing recipes from various "beeps" (bakespace peeps) for each day. To say she was organized is putting it mildly. There were recipes for each dish printed out laying in the dish it was to be served, with a porcelain place card of the member/author of that recipe to be placed in front of the dish.
It was so thoughtful of her to include some of our "beeps" that couldn't make the trip. She obviously had put a lot of time and effort into planning out every detail. (you should have seen her lists of lists LOL) Not to mention that her and Spryte had met up prior to the weekend to do all of the shopping for the ingredients and stuff for the party. A big hug and kuddos to both of you for working so hard for us and also for representing the beeps that couldn't be there with us!
Originally, Jim and I, had planned on going out for a romantic dinner Friday night and joining the party Saturday. So I set up the dessert table, hung out for a few hours, then we went to the hotel to check in. Well, I couldn't stand being away from my beeps and was anxious to meet (and see again) everyone that had started filtering in. That's the "Jersey Girls" Michele and Cara there on the left. Jim was so sweet and understanding (as if he had a choice LOL), so we headed back over to Karen's house. It was so cool to finally meet my BEEPS! To the right, Sheryle, me, and Martha. What's funny to some people is the fact that we all acted as if we'd known each other for ever. What some people don't understand is that we've already been friends. I mean, we talk to each other on a daily basis, sharing our lives and daily routines. Just because we do it online doesn't make it any less significant. So when we get together, it's like we already know each other, we just happen to be seeing each other in person for the first time. They were all even more adorable in person and I loved hearing their voices and accents for a change instead of just reading type. (I'm sure they got a kick out of my hillbilly accent, that, btw, gets worse the more I drink!) Several times throughout the weekend, we even had the video chat pulled up on our laptops and had our bakespace buddies joining in on the goings on. We took turns chatting in a chat room that Babette, the site owner had installed for us. It was great to have the ones who couldn't make it in person there with us.(yeah, hopeless foodie computer geeks, sigh)
We ate, drank, talked, and laughed for hours. Of course I had to do my stand up comedic act ('cuz that's how this Leo rolls LOL) and as if I needed any encouragement, Karen breaks out the Limoncello, homemade Limoncello, recipe courtesy of Culinary Alchemist (aka Shane). Literally, months in the making and it only took me about 1 hour to put a serious dent in the bottle. (ok, Ann Marie's Jim liked it too, so the big dent wasn't all my fault) LOL Dat shit is da bomb! Not kidding! Karen, Shane would be so proud ;)
I know, you're supposed to sip it, well I was sipping it...I just sipped it faster than anyone else! In fact, I think I sipped every one's leftovers LOL Wooooohooooo, better than shots of tequila! That's Ann Marie and Jim to the left there, I think that's proof enough that I wasn't the only one that liked the limoncello! Whazzzzup wit dat Jim, huh???? We also got to sample several types of wine. I'd offer a tasting review, but well, uhm, I think you get the idea of how the evening went.
Saturday I woke up and felt a bit tired, but surprisingly, no major hangover. According to my husband, I was a little loud coming in the night before (yeah, apparently yelling "I love you man" in the hotel hallway to my beeps Michele and Cara, oh gawd), sooooo, I had promised him I'd use my "inside" voice the rest of the day. [eyeroll] LOL First on the agenda was to go find alcohol so I could hook my girls UP back at the house with some cocktails. (which, come to find out, isn't as easy as it sounds in the suburbs of PA) But I was determined and the mission was accomplished! When we finally arrived at Karen's, much to Margaret's (Karen's mom) dismay, I was a wee bit quiet. (too quiet according to Margaret! ;) ) It didn't take much convincing for Jen, Kathy and I to fire up the blender and get the mango margaritas and Bahama Mamas flowing. (I believe Jim from PA was hogging the limoncello, or hiding it from me, I'm not sure) Ding Ding Ding....round two! Wooooohooooo! Yup, that would be my pal Jen (I'm so proud!), next to her avatar....fitting right? LOL
Tons more food was being prepared, with everyone pitching in at one time or another. That's Sheryle in the background, Kathy, Jen's sister with the look of concentration plastered on her face. Wait...is that an empty margarita glass next to her? Rah-row....the bartender was apparently slacking off. So where was that bartender anyway?
Oops, I'm sooooo busted!
The guys stayed occupied doing, well, whatever guys disappear and do. Oh, I guess they did the (guy) grill thing. Dan "the man" did an awesome prime rib roast and also a rotisserie chicken (which my Jim just had to get his hands in there and become one with the chicken).
We had an array of side dishes, you name it, it was there. Corn, baked beans, potatoes, bread, fruit salad, pasta salad....There was so much food I seriously can't remember it all. But if you want a complete rundown of what we had, along with the recipes, check out the complete list here, in the bakespace forums.
After eating, we had our gift exchange, in which we all brought a gift bag or basket that had items in it that represented us or our state in some way. We drew by "states" which was really cute. I gave stuff I've blogged about; vanilla extract, vanilla sugar, basalmic strawberry jam and I threw in a bottle of wine from my fav local winery. I drew Spryte's gift and was thrilled to receive Penzey's salad spice blends and a bottle of sandwich sprinkle herb blend. Plus, she had stuffed the box with bay leaves, cinnamon and nutmeg. Very cool!
Of course we had a laptop with the video chat out on the patio with us while we all opened our baskets. There's Ann Marie, chatting away with our beeps at the end of the evening. (Everyone must have went for a bathroom break LOL) The evening eventually wound down and sadly, it was time to go. Most of us stayed in town another nite but were planning on checking out and leaving early in the morning so it was time to say goodbye to our friends and give Karen, Dan, and mama Margaret some much needed rest. The next morning, Jim and I actually drove into downtown Pittsburgh to catch some sites and check out the strip district. (I'll blog about that next)
To Karen, Dan, and mama Margaret; thank you so much for your gracious hospitality. You made us all feel so welcome and right at home. Karen, you did WAY too much (but that's just "what you do", right?) I just want you to know how much we all appreciated how special you made our weekend. Mama Margaret, it was totally our pleasure to meet you. You're a hoot girl! (Jim and I are still talking about how cute you are) You are all "our kind of people", "keepers", for sure.
To my beeps; you all are so very very cool and I hold a special place for each of you in my heart. Great people, good souls, and no one could ask for better friends. Thanks for the good times and memories that I'll cherish for a lifetime. I LOVE EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU MAN! (and no, I'm not drinking limoncello.....that's for reals LOL) For those that couldn't make the trip this time around, I truly hope to see you next time, you were truly missed and often thought of my friends. (to Dani and Shane, my Cali beeps, I missed you both man!)
And finally, a huge thankful hug to Babette, the bakespace site owner. Without you girl, none of this would have happened. Thanks so much for the wonderful site and bringing us all together. I hope that we will, someday, get to meet you in person, you're awesome chicky!
I'm missing my beeps already....sniff, sniff. Can't wait for next year! Good times, for sure!
For more stories and pics of the weekend, head on over to Michele's blog. (If anyone else blogs about the weekend, please let me know and I'll link to it also). HUGS!