Chocolate Pecan Ice Cream Pie + Makin' A Dragon Wanna Retire

“Dancing = vulnerability = joy. And that’s contagious.” - Brené Brown

I’m probably going to refer to this pie as Vera’s Pie from now on, even though its official name is Chocolate Pecan Ice Cream Pie with Bourbon Butterscotch and Pretzel Crust. It’s from this cookbook, and it was easier to make than I thought it would be but also quite possibly even more delicious than it looks in the photos.

When my sister Amy told me she wanted to visit me in Seattle before our baby comes, I was thrilled. The fact that she made it work to travel here alone with her 13-month-old daughter made me feel so loved and cared for, likely because my number one love language by far is quality time. I wanted to make sure they got to do everything they wanted to do while they were here, which Amy told me was mostly just to spend time with us and our cousins and meet our friends. I decided a spaghetti dinner was in order, and that I would make a special pie for dessert.

Now, I’m sure there’s some complicated culinary explanation that I’m unaware of, but whenever I think about the kind of dessert that should follow a meal made of pasta with red sauce, I think chocolate is the only way to go. It’s possible that the presence of red wine is often a factor I suppose, but when I think of serving, say, cherry pie after spaghetti, I think I’d rather skip dessert altogether. 

Anyway.

I’d been wanting to try out this pie, so I gathered the ingredients and worked on it little by little over the course of a few days, food processing the pretzels on Monday, making the chocolate covered nuts on Tuesday, and so on until our dinner on Thursday. You really should buy this book and get the recipe for yourself. I promise it’s worth it.

While we ate brunch after I picked Amy and Vera up from the airport, we were talking about how incredible it is that this little girl is growing into a real person, walking and talking and showing signs of her very own personality. Amy mentioned that when her husband dropped the two of them at the airport that morning they’d been discussing the fact that Vera trusts them so completely, and what a huge, weighty thing that is. I think it’s got to be one of the strangest parts of becoming a parent: the realization that you’re just you, the flawed and fallible person you’ve always been, yet in another human’s eyes you are mama or dada, which can mean the whole great big world.

One of my favorite things about little miss V is her entirely shameless love of dancing. So far she has about four moves, but they’re all as adorable and precious and hilarious as you’d imagine. I think my favorite is when she shoots both hands straight up into the air and rotates her hips from side to side. That one’s usually followed by a hands-in-the-air-clap-with-squat-to-the-beat. When she realized she could see herself dancing in our tv, she was mesmerized by her own moves, which I think is a pretty clear sign of total confidence. She’s still unaware of the fear of embarrassment, from what I could tell, and it was so much fun to witness her joy.

I also knocked another item off of my Seattle bucket list with the help of Amy and Vera. We didn’t go to the Space Needle for the Macklemore/pirate flag dance party (in part because, apparently, the Space Needle hasn’t given its employees raises in four years), but we sure did go out on the docks at Fisherman’s Terminal and dance around with a pirate flag in the rain. Well, Amy and I danced. Vera sort of stood there stunned, trying to figure out where we were and what the boats and the water were all about.

We hit Pike Place and the Seattle Aquarium, and made sure to take a walk down to the Ballard Locks. Vera entertained herself for hours by pulling bottles of vitamins out of a bin in our bathroom and carrying them around, shaking them to the beat of her own little drum. We had a dance party at least once a day, always to the tune of Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson’s ‘Uptown Funk’

And although Vera didn’t get to have any of the pie this time, I sort of decided that this pie and this visit were going to mark a commitment to remembering her dancing and her vulnerability and her JOY, to remembering that there isn’t anything to fear. It really is contagious.  

So here’s to you, sweet girl. May your dancing and your joy inspire countless others you will meet in your lifetime. And when you find yourself feeling afraid, come over for a slice of pie and some uptown funk.  

Every Stranger's Face I See

photo 1.JPG

Last weekend Dann and I drove out to Snoqualmie Falls, in part because we’d heard it was beautiful and also because it was 85 degrees outside all weekend, which meant it was borderline life-threatening in our apartment. We snapped a few pictures of the waterfall and had brunch at the hotel restaurant there. Then we drove back to our neighborhood and saw the movie Boyhood, which put me over the homesick edge. I was miserably sad for the next 24 hours. I think it’s finally sunk in that we’re not on a trip, that this is where we live now. And as much as I believe we’re in Seattle for the right reasons and that there are good things for us here, I miss the place I still think of as home. I miss my family. I miss my friends. I miss the mountains. I miss the way a Lamar’s cake donut is perfectly soft and delicious on the inside but just a little crispy-crunchy on the bottom because the air is so dry in Denver.  

I miss this little girl like crazy:

I've been surprised by the realization that leaving the place I've known as home for the first time ever at age 32 is not easy - in fact, it’s been much harder than I anticipated. I’ve only been here for three months, so I know a lot can happen (and I trust that it will), but lately I've been having a hard time imagining a life here that's as good as the life I knew in Denver. I suppose you could say I’m grieving.

And because sometimes I am a drama queen, on the hardest days I watch this and just cry and cry:

The good news is we get to visit Colorado in just over a week and we'll be able to spend time with some of the people I've been missing most. There's something about knowing the trip is on the calendar that makes me feel a little bit more hopeful about being here now.

I came across a tweet from Donald Miller yesterday that said, "Every healthy thing grows and changes. Nothing stays the same unless it's dead. Let's stop resisting change. God invented change." So while I might be sad for a little while longer, I'm glad to know that growing through all this change is a good indication that I'm healthy and that I'm alive.     

Blueberry Pies + Throwing My Neighborhood In The Air

Monday marks eight weeks since I arrived in Seattle. Eight weeks! It feels like it’s gone by fast, but also it’s sort of hard to tell because I’ve felt pretty out of my element since I got here, if I’m honest.

IMG_3339.jpg

Can I be honest? Making pie is about the most normal thing I’ve done since I got here. Most days I still feel like I’m on a trip and that eventually we’re going to make our way back home to Denver and life will pick back up where we left it. As though I’ve just been on summer vacation and in a matter of days/weeks I’ll be headed back to life as I knew it before the school year ended. (Shout out to all my teacher friends who are already back at it.)

One thing I’ve struggled with more than I’d like to admit is feeling afraid in the place I live now. We’re in the city, so understandably there’s a moderate amount of crime, but our building management seems unconcerned about keeping us in the loop when something like a bike storage break-in happens. At our building in Denver, when someone tried to break into the bike storage, the building management chased him down, took his picture, and posted it all over the building so everyone was informed and aware. The fact that this place is still so unfamiliar makes me feel anxiety more often than peace and comfort, which is a tough place to be. I may or may not have been wide awake at 3am the other night, searching for new places to live on craigslist. Our lease doesn’t end until May.

IMG_3334.jpg

In the meantime, I’m choosing to get out and familiarize myself with my neighborhood. I registered for a self defense course because I figure it never hurts to be empowered and prepared. I was also admitted to the Seattle Police Department’s Community Police Academy, which I’m hoping will help me learn enough about the city to start feeling more comfortable here. 

I’m trying to be mindful of Isaiah 41:13, too, because I believe that it's true.

I am the Lord your God

who takes hold of your right hand

and says to you, Do not fear;

I will help you.

And I’m pretty sure it was the Holy Spirit that made Ice Cube’s ‘Friday’ come up on my Pandora station the other day when I was walking home alone. Something about the words “Throw ya neighborhood in the air/if ya don’t care” made me feel notably more confident as I made my way through the neighborhood. Maybe it was really just the bangin' beat, but whatever it was, it worked. (Is it a coincidence that Ice Cube is sporting a Mariners hat and jersey in the video? I don't think so.)

1407175683.490686.8.JPG

Luckily, we’re meeting people and making friends and that helps. And we’ve got family just up the road, too, which makes it feel like everything’s going to be okay. I bought a half flat of blueberries at the farmer’s market last weekend, and I’ve made two different blueberry pies in the last couple of weeks. The berries are delicious, and the fact that we’ve had plans with enough people to necessitate multiple pies recently brings me great joy. Here's hoping this place continues to feel more like home over time. Until then, I'll try to be brave and just keep throwing my neighborhood in the air.

Both of the pies in this post were made from recipes I found on Bon Apetit's website, Peach Blueberry Ice Cream Pie and Blueberry Crumble Pie