“Wishing I was lucky…”

Woo hoo!!! About 2 weeks ago, I got an email from the Foodie Blogroll announcing that my streak of being a blog-loser had finally been broken! I won a set of 6 spices from Spices Inc. through one of their monthly contests. I’ve had a widget on the blog since then, but I didn’t want to blog about my winnings until I had my spices. I happened to check the mail yesterday at one point, and found a box on my porch:

I had kind of hoped (after emailing Greg, the CEO of Spices Inc.) that they might show up on my birthday, so I was very pleasantly surprised when they did! And I thought this was pretty cool too:

How often does a company’s CEO take the time to hand-write a note on an invoice? Heck, how often does a CEO even see an invoice? I thought that was a mark of excellent customer service. I had my choice of 12 different sets, and for awhile I was torn between the Gourmet Salt Set, and the Bakers Classic Spice Set. And while Jay also tried to talk me into the Backyard Grill Cravings Spice Set, grilling season in SoDak is over for those of us with charcoal grills, and he correctly suggested that I get a set I’d actually get some use out of. So I made my choice:

And inside were 6 gourmet baking spices:

Even though I already have store-bought jars of cinnamon & vanilla opened, I couldn’t resist the temptation to open a couple of these. I needed cinnamon for the tiramisu and vanilla for the whipped cream I made. I am very grateful both to the Foodie Blogroll and Spices Inc. for my prize!

And in between ooh-ing & aah-ing over my new spices, I got to work on the rest of the cleaning and some of the cooking for my birthday party. I started off by making some Spicy Meatballs. I made the recipe through frying the meatballs, then shoved them in fridge till closer to party-time. I reheated them & then added the tomatoes shortly before the guests arrived. I also started the risotto for my fritters, and left that to cool for awhile. Around 4, I started on the tomato-garlic dip that Kendra gave me the recipe for, as well as assembling and frying the risotto fritters. It took an hour & a half to get them filled and fried, and I told Jay that I probably will never make them again! For the pain-in-my-butt that they were to make, they were rather tasty, and probably would’ve been really awesome dipped in marinara. I hopped in the shower around 5:30, got cleaned up, then started getting the table set. And then Allison & Jen arrived!

Once the meatballs were done, I arranged everything and had people dig in:

I was slightly apprehensive about the Pumpkin-Chocolate Tiramisu, only because while I love pumpkin, sometimes the taste of it gets to be a little overwhelming. I needn’t have worried:

I did resist the urge to go back for a larger helping, and I’m secretly glad that more people seemed to go for the Almond Torte, which was equally delicious:

Especially with the whipped cream & strawberries:

Honestly, I could’ve just mixed those two bowls together, and been a happy camper.

And not that it was necessary, but I got gifts too:

My favorite, though, was my red cookbook from the bambino:

And not surprisingly, I’ve already found a few things in it I want to make. My mom’s gift showed up Friday:

Apparently she bought it a few years ago, stuck it somewhere, then promptly forgot about it until a couple weeks ago! No matter. I need another watch anyway…At least until I can get a new band for my Hello Kitty watch.

Allison, Jen & Shari gave me gift cards representing 2 of my monetary-spending weaknesses:

Katie & Ernie brought Canadian goodies (Ernie’s from Newfoundland):

Melissa brought chocolate & hazelnut goodies:

My eyes lit up when I saw the Ferrero Rocher package…I freakin’ LOVE those and I joked that I had to hide them until everyone left, so no one would see me devour the entire pack! I am proud to say that so far this morning, I did succumb, and have one, but that’s all I’ve had. However, between the bambino & I, the Arnott’s are about half-gone. As are about a third of the Cadbury Fingers from Katie & Ernie!

And funny…I also ended up with these:

My wine rack looks almost full again! I only ended up opening 2 bottles last night–The Shiraz & the Cabernet Sauvingon (which is what I purchased, not Pinot Noir, like I’d thought). The Merlot is still chilling in the fridge, which is fine. If I feel up to it, maybe I’ll open it later today. Probably not until at least tomorrow, though. I do have a bit of a headache going on at the moment. And no wonder, since this is how I ended the evening:

Red-faced & exhausted (not drunk, though. I don’t care to be obliterated the next day anymore). And now that it’s time to go run errands and I still need to work on laundry, I should get moving. I’ve hogged the laptop long enough!