Dear Summer, Don’t Go

It’s our last week before school starts, and I know that as the mom of three boys I’m supposed to be desperately excited for that but I’m not.  Something must be wrong with me!  Summer and the boys have not made me crazy this year, except for making me half-seriously consider home schooling for the rest of the boys’ lives, so I guess, yeah, I’m crazy.

I’m going to miss mornings of watching Vincenzo make waffles and messing up all the steps (and all the kitchen).  I’m going to miss staying up way too late because the boys don’t want me to stop reading to them.  I’m going to miss our weekly schedule of beach dates, park dates, play dates, and museum dates.  I’m going to miss weekends free enough to actually even go on date dates.  I’m going to miss the nights I realize I accidentally cooked for 20 people instead of 5 and inviting friends or neighbors over at the last minute.  During the school year, every minute feels like a “last minute,” and all of them are already full.

In an attempt to hang onto summer a little bit and beg it to stay longer or at least to leave me with an old sweater to remember it by, here are some scenes from our summer 2016.

We spent a fair amount of the summer at our favorite beach, digging holes and making islands, carving canals and doing some basic civil engineering.

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The boys spent five minutes at the Science Center standing at still as this, trying to get a butterfly to land on them.

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Then my friend casually walked past them and…

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Of course, the boys fought a bit.

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And there were days when they got a little wound up.*

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So we got their energy out at a bunch of parks.

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On rainy days the kids played inside.

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Then I’d tell them to clean it all up—put everything in a box!  They took me quite seriously.

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Just to teach them a lesson, I’d make them wash the windows.

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For cheap thrills I’d stick the boys on the deck with a bucket of water, a little soap, and three straws.

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On other days we climbed trees.

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We also hugged trees (these particular ones were at a Lego art exhibit).

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The chickens felt left out, so…

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Leo missed a lot of naptimes, driving brothers to camps or driving home from museums. 

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Or maybe he didn’t miss a lot of naps.

We did science.

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We practiced “safe touching” at the aquarium’s touching pool.

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Some days we just  fit in.

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Some days we didn’t.

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The boys had 6 weeks of swim lessons and still managed to look awkward in the pool.

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We went to the zoo with my new neighbor and realized her little monkey was born this exact day as this other little monkey (okay, technically an ape in the left photo and a monkey on the right):

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We loved watching the birds enjoy our new bird feeder:

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We said goodbye to Vincenzo’s Korean friend, who moved back home.  (His Korean friend is the one on the right—I know it’s hard to tell in this picture.)

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We harvested enough from our garden to make an entire side dish!

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We juggled with Poppy in the park.

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We blew a few things up.

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And we celebrated my parents’ 50th anniversary. 

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It feels weird to throw this in as just one picture at the end of my post, but I don’t feel like asking 70 of my parents’ closest friends/family for permission to post their pictures on my blog.  Just know that it was a wonderful afternoon of catching up with our grade school friends’ parents, former teachers, and relatives we often only see at Christmas; seeing my parents so happy and comfortable among their lifelong friends; hearing stories retold from their wedding day; and trying to avoid that one crazy family member who always shows up at these things.

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Doh!

So, Summer, thank you for being just what you were this year.  A little of this, a lot of that, and never too much of anything.  See you next June!

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Beef bulgogi in lettuce wraps
Brown rice
Green beans in ginger and soy sauce
Strawberry rhubarb crisp

*After these spin-outs the kids always sit or walk around holding their stomachs, saying they feel sick.  This year one kid took it a step further and puked all over the patio.  It was awesome!!

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The Fair!!!!

It was Fair Day for MrsMouthy’s family on Thursday, yay! 

I used to look forward to Fair Day more than Christmas, but that was before we had to miss nap time and stay up past bedtime and wait through three different emergency poops that inevitably have to happen during the four hours we are at the fair.  That was back when a kid would want a bag of cotton candy so you’d get him one but he could only eat a couple bites before he was too full, no harm done, throw the rest away when he’s not looking.  Now that kid eats the entire bag and asks for a bottle of Coke to wash it down.  It has been many years since the fair has not ended with one or more parents football-carrying a screaming child to the car and struggling to buckle the screaming football into its car seat. 

Don’t get me wrong, I still love the fair.  I’d say I look forward to it more than Thanksgiving but not as much as Christmas, so it’s still good!

Anyway, I planned on taking a ton of pictures at the fair but got stopped by this sign on the way in:

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I almost turned around and went home right then but I had to go in because that’s where the scones are.

First stop: the chickens. 

Hey, pssst, wanna see a rated R chicken?

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(See the R rating on the green card there?  Ha!  What’d you think this was going to be a picture of?!)

The next chicken is a little special, too–the best we can make out is that its name is Buttflame Cora.

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We had a special amount of respect for this next chicken once we saw what it got a deduction for.

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After the chickens we took the crew over to the bleachers to see the goat show.

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I don’t think they really understood how bleachers work.

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By then everyone was hungry.  It was a happy night, as all of my boys got their favorite foods for dinner.  Leo:

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(Us: Do you want a hamburger or something to go with your fries?  Leo: No.  Just fwies.”

Rocco:

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And Vincenzo.  I forgot to take a picture of his caramel apple before he ate it, but here’s all that was left of it by the time he was done:

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After dinner (and the third poop stop), the kids got to go on a few rides.  I wasn’t sure if Leo was going to like rides, but…

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I wish I had taken more photos, like of Leo shooting a basket and winning his first fair prize, and of the poo hats they were selling, and of the fish that jumped out of the water and covered some serious ground before getting captured.  But that’s all I got, probably because I spent most of the time in rapid-fire conversation with my twice-a-year-friend, Angie,* while Kevin tried to find the missing kid.  There was always a missing kid.

Truthfully, no one kicked or screamed or cried on the way to the car and one kid even fell asleep on the way home, so the fair is on its way back to replacing Christmas as my favorite day of the year.

Sigh, miss you already, Fair!

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WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Leftovers from the food truck

*Angie and I have two built-in dates a year: gingerbread houses and the fair, and if we squeeze in more get-togethers through the year we consider the year a huge win.  In my perfect world we would be neighbors or conjoined twins or something.

Little funnies

1. Leo: Dad?
Me: Daddy’s downstairs.
Leo: Ugh!  I wasn’t asking you!

2.:

Leo, from the backseat of the car: ATAT phone home!

(He perfectly mixed up two classic 80s movies there.)

3.  A text Kevin sent me from the boys’ gym:

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We made too many jokes about buying a new Leo, though, and now our current Leo gets really mad when we talk about it—even though we could have had a Mondor Brand Leo.

4. Rocco, coming home after a weekend at his grandparents’: Why is it so clean here?

5. A text I sent to Kevin when I was baking bread, with the caption Thinking of you…

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6. Rocco, on a walk outside, bent down to pick this up:

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Rocco: Here’s a silk flower I found on the ground for you, Mom!
Me, taking it: Oh, it’s beautiful.  Thank you so much!
Rocco: It had a little slug on it but I wiped it off for you.

Sorry for the lack of representation from Vincenzo here but he has been gone at camp for a week.  We talk about him like he’s dead.  “Vincenzo would have really loved the steak tonight…” or, “Remember how Vincenzo used to always dig holes for you at the beach?”

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Sticky finger beef kabobs
Purple and white mashed potatoes
Roasted asparagus
Peaches and ice cream

40 Again

Kevin threw me a 40th birthday party last weekend.  Well, technically it was my 40 and 1/3 birthday, as I turned 40 in April, but close enough.  I had asked for an 80s theme, so Kevin sent an E-vite to my closest friends inviting them to a party called Rachel is Halfway to her 80s party.  RUDE.

He said he wanted to go all out like I do for my parties, only this time I would not be allowed to help at all.  That’s fine, I said, then asked, “Do you think the four-piece cover band should set up in the front yard or on the back patio?”  He gave me a look, so I decided not to ask if he thought we should arrange to have the guests picked up in DeLoreans or Camaros.

The party was on Saturday morning and there were no decorations, of course, because Kevin’s idea of going “all out” is kind of the opposite of going “all out.”  He did make a trip to the grocery store an hour before the party, saying, “I guess I should get some paper plates or something…”

No worries, though; I still had Rocco’s birthday banner hanging up:

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I just needed to fix it up a little to apply to my party, and so…

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As laid back as my husband is about most things, he completely surprised me with am over-the-top cake.

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So that’s why he had asked for a picture of me in my costume two weeks ago!

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When it was time to cut the cake everyone started chanting, speech, speech!  Kevin talked about what an amazing job the cake makers had done and how they had made the figurine so realistic—in fact, they even got that stick in just the right place…

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I told Kevin he could have his stick back now; I was done with it.  Then I thanked my friends for walking, driving, and/or flying to my birthday party and for also either getting babysitters for their kids or leaving their babies unattended at home. Don’t worry about the unattended baby part; it was our neighbor’s baby and we all checked in on him on the video monitor every fifteen minutes or so.

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Yep, still baby bunny cute.

For food we had everyone bring a dish from the 80s.  I spent about 15 minutes of my afternoon making a tuna noodle casserole, jell-o shots, and cottage cheese salad.  Some of my favorite 80s icons showed up to help me make dinner.

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I don’t know what was the bigger star of the party, the guests in their costumes or the food.  I’ll leave it to you to decide for yourselves.

The food:

(I thought I took pictures of everything everyone brought, but I was a few cocktails in by the time the last guest arrived.  I had to steal some pictures from the internet to fill in.)

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(I thought this is called ambrosia, because it seriously tastes like food of the gods.  Turns out it’s just cottage cheese salad.)

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Doesn’t the picture above look straight from a Better Homes and Gardens, circa 1984?

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The last picture is broccoli smothered in Velveeta and my friend who is a wonderful cook purposely overcooked the broccoli until it was mush.  I think it was the only dish that got completely devoured, too!

And now…the costumes!

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This picture is even better if you see how my sister usually dresses—in fact, I don’t think she’s worn any of the colors in the rainbow since 1989!

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Please note his American flag fanny pack that my hunk of a husband stocked with small liquor bottles.  I know because I checked.

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We tried smiling for some pictures, too, but for some reason it didn’t look very 80s. 

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Remember double polo shirts?!

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I’ve got to find out what Tom Cruise’s skin care routine is.  It looks like he is reverse aging!

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His daughters could not get over the gold earring.

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That peach dress is vintage 80s—in fact, my friend actually made it with her mom and wore it to her 8th grade dance!  It led to some spontaneous slow-dancing later in the evening.

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Careless whispers…

Kevin had bought some Nintendo controllers and downloaded every Nintendo game ever made for the party.  All the Nintendo games ever made took up 1.5 gigs of memory space, which is about the equivalent storage space a single Spongebob movie would take up on your computer today.  Yes, the 80s were a simpler time.

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But for most of the party we just sat around the table telling stories and finding out each other’s most hilarious secrets, occasionally asking questions from the 80s Trivial Pursuit game, and by the time we knew it it was 12:30 and four hours past Kevin’s bedtime.  We grudgingly admitted we were tired and the guests headed out, but you know me.  I couldn’t let them go home empty-handed, even if I didn’t plan the party. 

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Kevin: That sign is hideous.
Me: I know.  Isn’t it perfect?!

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Pitas with a smorgasbord of toppings: baba ganoush, hummus, cilantro pesto chicken, cucumbers, tomatoes, pepitas, Feta
Greek salad
Corn off the cob

Overnight Camp Gifts

I’m sending V off to overnight camp for his first time next Saturday, but I can’t let him go seven days without being messed with and/or spoiled by his mom a little.  I packed up a few gifts for him, one to open each day.  I remember my mom tucking little presents into our luggage when we went to camp and it just felt like a hug to open each one, and no matter how much fun camp was, I always needed that little hug from Mom.

So here they are, seven hugs from me to Vincenzo—some fun, some silly, some embarrassing, and all given with love.

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And inside…

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I stuck a note in with the gift telling him to ask the Magic 8 Ball if his brothers missed him yet.

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The card explains that sorry, I ran out of teal wrapping paper (which was true), and I did have blue but for some reason I wrapped it in pink.  And when he unwraps it…

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And underneath that layer…

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Vincenzo actually saw this gift last week in the pile of gifts that I had carelessly left on the counter and had asked me what it was and could he play it?  I put a kitchen towel over the stack of gifts and told him he had never seen it.

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4 packs of these bad boys, for sharing:

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Open it up and…

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Unfortunately, the pairs of underwear I bought are plain old plaid because that’s what Fred Meyer had, but I totally would have gotten something like this if I had the time.  There is also a pair of socks and a note reminding him to change his socks and undies every day, plus a note from me saying I envision his cabinmates gathered around him as he unwraps a set of underwear and him totally embarrassed.  Knowing V, he’ll probably just quietly open it in his bed one morning in a completely non-embarrassing way, but a Mom can dream, can’t she?

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I bought a set of these from Oriental Trading years ago and since then they have been baked into popovers, dropped into glasses of milk, snuck into sandwiches in the kids’ lunches, hidden on pillows, placed on shoulders…these bugs are our go-to practical joke.  Everyone with young children should have their own set of plastic bugs!

Friday:

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(Air not included)

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I hope this one is legal; we’re not supposed to send food with the campers, but as long as they don’t swallow it, it’s not food.  Right?

I had so much fun plotting and planning for all this.  The wrapping and messaging took a lot longer than I thought it would and left me wondering if it was fun to do once but now I’ll feel obligated to do it every year and come to totally dread it.*

Maybe.  But isn’t that how pretty much how everything goes when you’re raising kids?

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Leftover smorgasbord, including…
Spaghetti & meatballs
Chicken noodle soup
Freshly baked bread
Roasted asparagus
Rootbeer floats

*Of course, I can cut two hours out of the planning process by not blogging about it, but then what would be the point?!

Rocco, Age 7

About two years ago Rocco declared he only likes nonfiction.  He spent his first weeks of this summer reading a book called, “1,000 Amazing Facts About the World” or something like that, and so it is only appropriate that for his 7th birthday blog post, I stick to the facts and nothing but the facts, thank you ma’am.  So here it is, Rocco Age 7, in a list that is as nonfiction as MrsMouthy is able to get.

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1. The month before his birthday, when people asked his age Rocco would say, “6 and 11/12.”

2. The week before his birthday, he’d try to tell people he was “6 and 51/52” but it always came out wrong, like “six and fifty-three fifty-oneths?”

3. The first thing he wanted to do when he woke up on his birthday was to get measured.

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4. He knows what 12×12 is.

5. He wants to marry his best friend, Cole.

6. Fortunately for Rocco, we live in Washington State, so that is perfectly legal.

7. Unfortunately for Rocco, I’m pretty sure he’s straight.

8.  Then again, he and Cole do have brunch together an awful a lot so…

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9. He puts his R2D2 pajamas on backwards every night. “Rocco, your shirt is on backwards.” “Oh!” or, “Rocco, your pants are on backwards.” “Oh!” or, “Bad news, Rocco. Both your shirt and your pants are on backwards.” “Oh!”

10. His voice is always cranked up to 11.

11. That came in handy when a crowd of us was playing BINGO with Great Grandpa and Rocco was calling the numbers out. No matter how loud we all got, we could still always hear the numbers. BINGO calling may be Rocco’s true calling.

12. He’s a Lego maniac.

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13. He loves his mama and is always bringing me things he’s made. His latest gift was this “dipper thing for when you serve food.” I call it Ladle.

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14. He wants to be a boat builder when he grows up. He told me to write that in the kids’ journal in case he forgets.

15. He builds a giant boat out of Legos, then comes to us, wonky boat in hand, and says, “I feel a little dirty. I think I should take a bath,” which is code for, “I really want to see if this boat floats, the only way for me to do this is to get naked and get in the tub with it for a couple hours.” Then he sits in the tub for a couple hours with his boat.

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16. If he gets hurt so badly that he cries, within seconds he finds something to laugh about and he turns the cry into a cry-laugh and then into a laugh-laugh.

17. He has not been bored for even a second of his life. Rocco is always busy thinking of ideas and then making his ideas come to life.

18. He wants to end homelessness by having us all share our houses with the homeless.

19. He is one of the most forgiving, generous, curious, persistent, kind, and confident people I have ever known.

20. He rarely accepts “no” for an answer outright, which can be very frustrating for his parents at times, so they have to be firm with him.

21. Because of this, I make sure to tell him I am so proud of him and his beautiful, inquisitive, problem-solving mind.

22. He wants to know what “inquisitive” means.

23. I tell him it means I love him.

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I never know what he’s going to do next but I know it is going to be surprising, creative, imaginative, messy, and above all, loud. 

That’s just how the Taco Man rolls.

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He’s such an independent and strong-willed sucker, it’s hard to imagine there was ever a time he was tiny and helpless, but here is some nonfiction proof that he was.

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Rocco Taco, I love you to the moon and back, and because I know what your next question is going to be, I’ll tell you it’s 477,710 miles. 

But I was speaking hypothetically.

WHAT’S FOR LUNCH:
(Going out for dinner, but I had some girlfriends over for lunch)
Southwestern Chicken Salad
Cheese/cracker plate
Fruit platter
Double chocolate zucchini cake
Chocolate pizelles
Pear blackberry tart
Iced youthberry tea
Iced tea with lemon