The Vacation Recap, Part the Second

Starting up from where I left off:

Monday, May 18 – Wednesday, May 20 (aka: The Saga of the Penguin Cupcakes)1

I shall dub Monday “Errand Day” even though in many ways we were quite unsuccessful in the accomplishing of most things that fall under such a category. The day started off bright and early for Yara, who was ushered out of my room at some point in the wee morning by James to be taken out with the other resident dogs. He nicely prepared her food, complete with enzyme treatment, and returned her back to my room to not eat anything until I crawled out of bed an hour or so later.

Yara lying on the guest room floor, eating her breakfastAnyway, after the morning routine Raechel and I took off for what turned out to be a very busy day. First we headed to the vet’s office for Scarlet’s treatment. I was actually quite amused with Yara’s reaction to this new vet as she seemed determined to take Scarlet’s place during every aspect. There was a cute moment while we waited where Yara was resting her head on Scarlet’s feet, but neither of us were able to get a cell phone out quick enough to capture it before the girls moved.

Yara resting her head on my leg while riding the car; she has one eye closedAfter a bit of running around here and there to the chiropractor’s office, the pet supply store, and the mall, we attempted some grocery shopping. Our main items to purchase were veggieburgers and the ingredients for the very cute penguin cupcakes we’d planned to make. While much hilarity ensued during just the grocery store section of this day, I think it looses something when translated to text. I’ll just say we were both quite the dysfunctional shoppers — noodle aisle? — and it was only after nearly finishing our shopping did we think to consult the list of ingredients for the cupcake necessities. Oh, and we never did find veggieburgers in this store, and I kept having to remind Raechel that yes they were important to get lest we wanted to merely have brownies from a box for dinner. Not that we really were pained by that alternative, we just thought maybe it’d be bad form.

Anyway, after this rousing bit of silly, we headed back to the house for lunch where we saw James and Deb for about ten seconds each and failed at explaining the whole shopping endeavor. After we’d fed our starving bellies, we headed out again to yet another grocery store to try and get the things we’d forgotten and/or couldn’t find. In the end we came home with all but one of the ingredients for the cupcakes and about 400 different varieties of veggieburgers. Are we not awesome times a million?

Yara and Yancy playing outside in the pen; Yara is biting Yancy on the neck and Yancy has her right paw wrapped around Yara's headAnyhoo, before dinner we took the girls out to the pen for some playtime. We didn’t stay out too long, though, as it was getting quite chilly and dinner was soon ready. Dinner itself was quite an interesting event — we sort of ran out of clean silverware and we were far too hungry to wait for the dishwasher to finish. So, yeah, we totally ate salad (without greens) with spoons and asparagus with our fingers. It was epic, let me tell you. Did I mention that Deb had a friend over, as well?

Dasha, Yancy and Yara resting in a patch of dappled shade within the penTuesday was the first official day I got to sleep in, thanks in part to James for graciously continuing to take Miss Wakes-at-Dawn out with the other dogs. But also because we didn’t have any plans before noon, when we were to meet up with Megan for lunch! It was also a much nicer and warmer day than the previous two and so we very happily took Yara, Yancy and Dasha out to romp around in the pen. And by this I mean, Yara and Yancy played and Dasha spent most of the time camped out in the shade save for the two occasions she rolled around in something presumably smelly.

After that, we headed out to meet Megan for lunch at the Willimantic Brewing Company. It was quite yummy and very fun to see her again and catch up. Not surprisingly, given how small Fidelco is, Megan and Raechel had a few dogs and people in common and had quite a lot to chat about too. I’m always nervous when introducing people to other friends on the off chance that just knowing me ends up being their only point of commonality. How awkward! Anyway, Megan also was quite happy to see us and how we’re doing. I filled her in on the last few months since Yara started her EPI treatment and we both babbled on about other life type things.

After lunch, Raechel and I attempted to get the last few cupcake things to no avail. We decided that we’d make do with what we had which admittedly was basically everything . . . or sort of. Later, we all went to The Cheesecake Factory, which is one of the best places on Earth, for a fabulous, albeit HUGE, meal. It was kind of an odd experience since we had in sum total three different waitstaff serve us. I kid you not. When we got back to the house, laden with all our leftovers, Raechel and I whipped up the cupcakes so we’d have one less thing to do the next day. We ended up with two dozen and the first batch were quite, uhm, top heavy. They tasted great, though!

Me and Raechel with Yara and Yancy in front of the upside-down Leaning Tower of Pisa at UConnMy birthday was also quite the busy day! As per my birthday wish to not have to do extensive traveling, our plans for Wednesday mainly involved cooking. We had made the cupcakes the night before as I mentioned, but we still had pasta sauce, lasagna, and mousse to make and the task of actually decorating the cupcakes. So, naturally because of this we not only got a tremendously late start to the day, we didn’t even begin any of this until after lunch with James at UConn. We took Yancy with us and headed off to grab some food at the Student Union and find a place in the shade to chow down. Since both Raechel and James are alumni, they had a lot of neat little things to share about the campus and so after we’d finished our food they meandered us through the campus to some of the more interesting highlights, including the Upside-down Leaning Tower of Pisa (pictured right) and the upside-down pyramid (pictured left). The pyramid was actually quite a funny experience for both the dogs: Yancy didn’t want much part with it — and spent most of the time trying to ignore its existence, while Yara was mostly fine with it save for the fact that she wouldn’t move her rear end off the first step for a good ten minutes even though her front end was securely on the next step down!

Me and Raechel sitting in the upside-down pyramid with Yara sitting by my feet and Yancy sitting at the very edgeNext up we hit the Husky statue (UConn’s mascot) where we tried to get some photos of the girls. It was something of an ordeal since neither seemed up for photos and would look away or lie down or get off the stoop. We did get a few nice shots, but in the end we mostly have a series of comical shots of both girls looking one way or the other. Even after Raechel and I joined them, they were still rather obstinate. We also got a few cute shots of Yancy hiding under a nearby bench — perhaps to avoid the intense heat of the sun — and a few cute timed shots of all of us (and the dogs both not looking, of course). Anyway, not long after all this photography, James had to head back to work so we walked back through campus to the car and headed home.

Yara and Yancy sitting by the UConn husky statueWe worked on the various bits for the sauce first. Then started on creating black frosting for the cupcakes . . . apparently black food coloring into white frosting creates purple frosting . . . even when you try and melt chocolate into it. Go figure. So, back to the store we went to try and find black frosting. Oh, and while we were leaving Raechel said something that got me giggling as I was taking a sip of lemonade and in my attempt to not choke on it ended up with it up my nose! So yeah, most everything for several hours later totally smelled and tasted like raspberry lemonade. Good times.

Tray of cupcakes decorated as penguins and ice buckets of fish (in black-and-white)Anyhow, in the end we got dark chocolate frosting, which is a darker brown than regular chocolate frosting, and even that wouldn’t dye black. [EDIT: Raechel later admitted to me that her food coloring was very old, so this is why we had such issues with it. For reference, though, it’s best to use black food coloring with dark chocolate frosting as it can affect the taste of the frosting and this way not so much is needed to color it.] We gave up and frosted the penguins brown (not that you’d know from that particular photo, but these are decidedly brown). We worked on morphing our plain cupcakes into some very befuddled looking penguins and overflowing ice buckets of fish. This was steadily interrupted with sauce stirring and by the time James got home we hadn’t even finished the cupcakes and so left him the task of turning my sauce into lasagna. A challenge he took up with great skill as dinner turned out quite awesome! Raechel and I did quickly whip up some mousse after stuffing ourselves with lasagna and it was indeed chocolatey and quite good! We didn’t have any of the penguins, though save for the bits we munched on while decorating. I’m pretty sure I consumed an entire penguin and ice bucket without actually having one.

Basically, as I tweeted, it was the best birthday EVAR! I had such a blast!

  1. Recap continues in parts one, three, and four. See also: the full collection of photos.