A couple weekends ago we got to celebrate one of Jason's closest friend's 30th birthday! The best part is that it was a surprise! Joe's birthday wasn't a surprise of course, but his visit to CA was. Thankfully for him, his fiance Anne, is as sneaky as she is beautiful. She planned and booked travel arrangements for the two of them to leave chilly Chicago and spend the weekend in sunny Northern CA, without him suspecting anything more than a possible road trip was in the works. Before he knew it, he was on a flight to SFO, all the while thinking his number one bromance partner, Jason, was in Toronto for work. Double surprise!
Anne prepared the perfect scene for the grand reuniting to take place, at one of their favorite old stomping grounds. Their love did not disappoint, as evidenced by the video above.
I was in charge of flair (something I now want to have engraved on a piece of jewelry that I can wear everyday, to remind myself of this duty) so I brought party hats, a "birthday boy" button and of course, a dessert personalized to the guest of honor's preferences. Joe loves Oreos, so I decided to try out a new brownie + cookie concoction. Thankfully, they were a hit. I later ranted about why I'm a proud proponent of using boxed dessert mixes for my baked goods. The companies did all the work figuring out what tastes best. Who am I to think I can create a recipe from scratch that can compete?! I prepared my favorite brownie mix, pouring half of the batter into a baking dish, created a 4 by 4 grid of Oreo cookies, then adding in the remaining batter. I crushed up some cookies on top, for good measure, and baked at the usual temperature.
The next morning, we picked up the newly year older Joe, and his betrothed, for a breakfast double date at our favorite spot in Sacramento: Orphan. Although they met while living in CA, and have spent many weekends with us in Sacramento, things have changed since they were last Nor Cal residents. It was really fun to show off what our current life is like: where we live, and eat, and play, are different than where we did three years ago. Guests who know their way around a city enough to not need directions, and are cool with crashing on an air mattress in your craft room, are my favorite kind of guests.
After our plans to visit Redding changed, we debated a few different options for what to do with the free afternoon. It was so nice out (in February!) that I'm glad we landed on taking a trip to become "one with nature". I was convinced there would be traffic since it was a holiday weekend, but luckily the roads were clear for the 50 minute drive up to Apple Hill.
Mostly known for it's apple orchards, pumpkin patches, and Christmas tree farms, Apple Hill is a popular spot for families to visit, mainly in late Autumn. We knew from our last visit, that they also have really lovely wineries and breweries along the orchards. (We did check the website to make sure these spots were open during this time of the year!)
We bounced around a few different spots, including Bumgarner Winery. The name itself was enough for us to quickly pull in to their parking lot as we were passing by. (No, Madison wasn't there.)
My only regret was not taking more photos (and/or video) throughout the day. If I was planning better I would have brought the nice camera and gone full paparazzi! But the photos we do have are great snapshots of our time together. It's nice to have friends who are the same when you are with them, no matter the city or the season. <3
I want to remember the hilarious topics we talked about on the drive there and back. I want to remember how empty the winding roads were, and how sunny and clear the sky was. I want to remember how delicious the blackberry apple hard cider was, but forget how disappointed I was when I found out they were out of their famous fresh apple donuts. I want to remember watching the NBA All Star Dunk Contest contently on our couch, and later, going over details for their upcoming wedding with Anne. I want to remember how much fun it was to be together, just the four of us.
Happy Birthday, Joe! We love you! And thank you to Anne for making this fun visit happen. I'm so happy that Joe found you.
All this BFF time made me think about our last weekend together, in Chicago! I made a video from the footage we took on our phones, and I love it lots