Friday, February 25, 2011

Kitchen Adventures, Surprise Parties, and Loyalty: Why I'm Brag-worthy

When Hollywood Housewife first announced she'd be hosting a Brag Book link up, I was stumped.  Blogging can often seem like one big Brag Book, as we write about anything and everything.  My 31 Things and 32 Things lists have led me to do some braggable and not-as-braggable things, whether reading 100 books in a year or going to my first NHL game.

What do I do that I'm secretly proud of?  What is brag-worthy that I'd never think to brag about?  This turned out to be a fun post to write, so thank you HH for coming up with this concept!

1.  I love a good challenge in the kitchen.  I do use recipes but I'm not afraid to tweak them and put my own spin on things.  I know they say you should never try new recipes on company but I regularly treat my dinner parties to my latest attempts and it hasn't failed me yet.  I like to try random cooking techniques.  This is why I decided I should learn how to flambé last year.

A few weeks ago I bought a grapefruit for breakfast but when I got home, I really didn't want to go to the effort.  See, in my house, we would slice the grapefruit in half and use a spoon to dig out each section.  The fruit of our labor, indeed.  I didn't know if there was an easier way to eat a grapefruit.  I thought about trying to peel it like an orange but then I'd still have to deal with the seeds.  Then I began thinking about restaurant salads with those pristine orange sections.  How did they do that?  I knew there had to be a technique and was resolved to take knife to fruit and figure out. 

And then as if she were reading my mind, Tea posted all about supremeing oranges and grapefruit.  When you supréme (pronounced sue-prem), you are left with wonderful grapefruit segments.  I am a total convert!  Here is my latest attempt:

Now I just have to figure out what my next culinary feat will be!

2. No one plans a better surprise party than me.  I think through the party from every angle.  How to keep it a secret, how to still keep it a secret even if it's accidentally leaked, where the guests should park, where the guests should wait, and so on.  The crown jewel of my accomplishments involved my two roommates whose birthdays were within a week of each other.  I talked to Jen's boyfriend (now husband) and got him to email myself and Donna, which led Donna to think that Jason was going to surprise Jen by coming home early from a business trip.  Donna believed she was getting Jen out of the house, while I would stay behind, ostensibly to let Jason in and help him set things up.  When Donna and Jen got back to our place, there was a roomful of people ready to celebrate their birthdays and they were both in utter shock.  I loved it!

The last surprise party I planned was for my friend Dani.  I contacted her husband and then got her entire Bible study in on the act.  She thought she was going to Bible study just like any other week until...

It was so much fun!  My friends must be surprised at how devious I can be but I reassure them it only comes out for a good cause.

3. I am a collector of quality friends.  I'm a very friendly person but that doesn't necessarily mean we'll be friends friends. Once I embrace someone as a friend, I'm all in.  My loyalty knows no bounds.  I will be there for you no matter what.  This does mean that I've let friends take advantage of me at times and that I haven't walked away from friendships that have become unbalanced as soon as I should.  My boundaries have improved over the years and I've learned that I can still be loyal while standing up for what I deserve in a friendship. I've also learned that sometimes I do too much and sometimes I do too little. I often wonder what I've done to deserve the people in my life.


I've stayed in touch with friends from all parts of my life.  Up until a few years ago, I didn't realize it was unusual to hold on to so many friendships.  I thought everyone did.  My childhood friend stopped through my hometown last year and it was as if we'd never spent time apart, even though we started drifting in high school or college. It was so great to reminisce with her about our days playing Little House on the Prairie in her backyard and some of the tougher things we'd experienced since then.  I keep in regular touch with former co-workers from several jobs.  My high school best friends are still my best friends.  I've added a few friends to my inner circle over the years and they are invaluable to me. 

These relationships ebb and flow.  Some have only been for a season and others will be with me til we're old and gray. It's not that I talk to all my friends every week but I do keep in regular touch by phone, email, or Facebook.  I am intentional about maintaining these connections, one way or another.  I'm proud that I continue to care for the friends that have meant so much to me along the way.

All right, it's your turn!  Hop over to Hollywood Housewife to link up with your own post or comment with your own brag-worthy accomplishments.


  1. Way to go! Great things to brag about...especially being a loyal friend, so important. I am so stumped as to what I should brag about and honestly lacking a little boldness to do so. You've inspired me. :)

  2. That's exactly how I cut up oranges and grapefruit--had no idea there was a fancy name! :-)

    I'm here from HH!

  3. Love this! Can you help me plan a party?? Haha!! I'm terrible at that. Yikes! Love your photos. Good job. Nice to meet you. - Austin Girl

  4. These are amazing things to brag about! I'm terrible in the kitchen, so I'm jealous of people who are not. And while I always appreciate someone who is a loyal friend, I'm particularly impressed that you can throw such an awesome surprise party!

    (thanks for participating in the link up.)

  5. Ohhh, what a great list! I've always wanted to throw a surprise party, but I'm CERTAIN I'd let something slip. I'm a crummy secret keeper.

    And that thing with the grapefruit? AWESOME!

  6. I love the surprise party planning brag! That's a wonderful thing to be good at.

  7. I love this, Leigh! So fun to get to know you better. I love loyal friends, and I admire you for keeping so many life-long friendships. You are amazing!!

    (And I will definitely try that grapefruit trick!)

  8. sounds like you are a great friend to have! Love your blog!

  9. You know what I always forget when I put up surprise parties? Planning where the guests should park. I never forget to send the invitations, apply for cash advance, shop for food and supplies, and research about the dishes to be cooked, but I always fail to anticipate which ways the celebrant will pass. And so, the guests' cars spoil the surprise. Next time, I swear I'm gonna get it right!


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