Home sweet home.

Dear friends,

I got the best surprise ever last night. Kate called after dinner to say her tennis coach cancelled their practice scheduled for Sunday and gave her a free pass for Monday — so she’s home for the long weekend!

I ‘m absolutely giddy about having my CupKate home for an unplanned visit. I made Pioneer Woman’s Baked French Toast this morning and I’m just waiting for the aroma to wake the kids.

By the way, it’s still raining slow and steady  in our neck of the woods. I feel blessed beyond measure — Mother Nature is smiling upon us and we’re all together under one roof. I’m one Mamma who couldn’t be happier.

With gratitude {for three days with the three people I love most},

Joan, who’s not leaving the kitchen this weekend and whose holiday culinary line-up includes barbecued chicken and baked beans, grilled salmon and Midnight Pasta, and green chili chicken enchiladas

Gullywasher.

Dear friends,

Source: Pinterest

We had a gullywasher yesterday. Mr. Mom noted last night the weather “rained out” his Sunday. Me? It made my day.

There was no guilt to be found in watching four movies in a row — You’ve Got Mail, Splendor in the Grass, Where the Boys Are, and Last of the Mohicans. I have seen all of them before, but couldn’t resist four diverse love stories on a rainy day. It seemed urgent. It seemed vital.

And three helpings of Pioneer Woman’s Baked French Toast spread throughout the day was just the anti-motivation I needed to stay put.

With gratitude {for a great satellite movie package, a comfy new sofa, and the best “breakfast” times 3 I can remember in a long time},

Joan, who thinks no greater cinematic beauty has ever been filmed than Deanie Loomis (Natalie Wood) in her white dress and hat at the end of Splendor in the Grass

Cheers to nineteen.

Dear friends,

We had a party last night. Best I can tell, it was a hit.

As was the cake.

I got a little nervous about running out of cake when kids kept showing up, but my four-layer beauty fed the hungry teenagers with one piece to spare. Whew!

The whole evening made my heart full. I couldn’t have been happier that so many friends showed up to help Kate celebrate. It’s been a tough year for her as she noted on a recent Facebook post: Eighteen was one heck of a year for me, but I made it through it. Cheers to nineteen and all that it brings me!

Our new little town has welcomed us at every turn over the past several months, and the kids have been especially kind and friendly. My debt of gratitude grows every day with each new gesture of friendship.

With gratitude {for strength of family, resilient kids, and the gift of new friends, which is one of the best reasons of all to celebrate},

Joan, who impressed a kitchen full of teenagers while making Pioneer Woman’s Baked French Toast (for Sunday breakfast) with her one-handed egg cracking technique