The JFK Wedding Cake

I love wedding cake. The density of the cake is usually perfect with interesting fillings and real buttercream. A fluffy cake is nice, but I prefer a cake with some body. No whipped cream frosting here. I want the stuff that tastes like a grocery store bakery sheet cake but fancy.

I’ve tried cakes from a few nice bakeries around Phoenix for birthdays and other holidays, but the special occasion cakes just aren’t wedding cake. Good, but not the one.

Then I tried the JFK Wedding Cake.

round white cake with pink frosted decoration, a slice is cut out to show layers of white cake, pink frosting, and raspberry jam

Montilio’s Baking Company in Boston has been making their Presidential White Cake for over 70 years. JFK and Jackie served it at their wedding (hence the nickname). It’s “three layers of white cake interspersed with raspberry preserves and raspberry frosting, and it’s topped with sweet vanilla buttercream.”

It’s perfect. And you can order it in the dang mail. $90 is a bit rough, but it made for a special moment at my mom’s birthday brunch. And it was delicious.

Magnificent. 10/10 no notes.

slice of cake with white and pink frosting and layers of white cake, pink frosting, and rapsberry jam

Now I’m just counting down the days until the next birthday so I can order it again.

Getting back into vinyl

two small shelves of vinyl records

Back in 2010 I bought my first record player, a suitcase-style Crosley for $50. We had a bunch of records Clay’s dad had given us and over the next years I casually collected a couple handfuls of albums—mostly from bands I saw live or special Mondo pressings.

Earlier this year we saw New Found Glory play at Celebrity Theatre and Chad mentioned that their album Nothing Gold Can Stay had been removed from Spotify, unbeknownst to them. It’s back now, but it reminded me why owning physical copies is valuable. It’s hard to balance that with wanting to own less stuff in general, but for my very favorite albums, it feels worthwhile to have them around.

(And now it sure seems like a growing trend with streaming services pulling films and series completely with no way to even purchase them. Thanks I hate it.)

Collecting records can get expensive fast, so I’ve been limiting my purchasing to albums I really, really love. It’s been fun tracking down ones that are now out of print and having lucky timing on cheaper or special edition represses. Lots of ’00s pop punk classics and gems from the ’90s.

Crash Test Dummies “God Shuffled His Feet” The Presidents of the United States of America self-titled Drive Thru Records’ Welcome to the Family compilation

I’ve been letting myself get a tiny bit obsessive with collecting all the 7" singles from my absolute faves like Fountains of Wayne and New Found Glory. I got this FlipBin holder for them and it’s great.

metal tabletop holder that fits 7-inch records

I think I’ll probably soon reach a point where I’ve got all the existing albums I want or can actually get (some albums are pretty rare and I just can’t justify spending so much 😭). Luckily lots of albums I love are getting special anniversary represses lately.

Besides the joy of collecting, this has made me actually listen to music. I’ve been sitting down and revisiting beloved albums and not doing anything else. For a while there I got in the habit of having music as background noise while doing five other things. It’s been fun to focus on listening the way I used to.

And finally, that little Crosley player eventually died and I decided it was time for an upgrade. I still wanted the convenience (and price) of an all-in-one turntable. I opted for an Angels Horn H019.

woodgrain turntable with built in black speakers and clear plastic lid

Thanks to some helpful YouTubers I was able to calibrate things, balance the tone arm, and get listenin’ in no time. It sounds pretty great for what I need and I also like that I can close the lid while it’s playing. So far so good!

Now all I need is for Mondo to finally press That Thing You Do.

Meet Gravy

selfie of me in the car holding Gravy, a small blue heeler dog

Two weeks ago we visited a local shelter and left with this little dude. We’re calling him Gravy. He’s a 4-year-old Australian cattle dog (blue heeler) mix. The county thought maybe a mix with chihuahua or something else small since he’s about half the size of the average cattle dog, weighing in at 19lbs.

Gravy curled up and napping on the rug

He was a stray and almost didn’t make it through the adoption system because of bad behavior. He’s very skittish and fearful, but we really loved him from the moment we saw him. We’re grateful Home Fur Good scooped him up from county so we could eventually meet him.

These first two weeks have been a bit of a ride. We’ve already worked through one allergic reaction, one ear infection, a case of giardia, and a harrowing escape chase through the neighborhood. He’s been pretty scared of just about everything, but with lots of patience, he’s starting to gain confidence and open up. We can already tell he’s such a sweet boy and we’re excited to see more of his personality surface.

Gravy on the grass Gravy on the grass, looking up with eyes closed

This has also been an interesting process for me personally as I’m still working through my grief with Boomer and Helo. I guess that never really ends, but it has been an emotional time. It’s weird to think Gravy actually could have met them if timing had been different.

It’s been quite a change from the quiet, routine life with senior pups! He’s got us out walking a whole bunch which has been a nice push for this homebody. He’s learning to play with toys and to not be too freaked out by a car ride. We’ve got a ton of good nicknames for him already (Mr. Boat is a favorite) and we’re just really excited we’ve started our Gravy years.

Gravy standing on the patio looking adorable


In early January we said goodbye to our pup Helo. Since then it’s felt like time has been standing still and, at the same time, moving way too fast. We knew this day was coming soon and spent the last few months preparing and savoring every last moment. This past weekend we had to say goodbye to our first pup, our sweet Boomer.

Boomer, a black and white whippet/rat terrier mix pup

Over 13 years ago, we adopted her from the Humane Society when she was two. She’d been there for months, earning her the label Lonely Hearts Pup. It was obvious she had recently had puppies, which made her surrender by her previous family seem all the more unfathomable. But we fell in love with her instantly and brought her home. $30 all-in and the best money we’ve ever spent.

Boomer on her first day home, her face hasn’t shown any signs of aging yet

She was the opposite of Helo in basically every way. The extrovert of the family, she had a rambunctious joy for life and did everything at level 11 excitement. She loved to be outdoors and to run, taking hours-long walks and begging for more. And she maintained her signature energy well into her old age.

Boomer gleefuly rolling around in the grass

But what she wanted most was to be around people. She loved every person she ever met. She’d insert herself in your eye line, an inch from your face if she could. She’d thump you with her tail, wagging it with such vigor we often thought she’d injure herself. And she’d stand on your legs/chest with such intention it was physically painful. We’d joke she had 800 pounds of pressure in her paws.

Boomer up on the headrest of the couch inserting herself in between the camera and the television Boomer resting her head on the foot of a recliner staring at the camera

Despite her assertiveness, she could also be a sensitive one. A light rain, a slightly cracked door, or a crumpled piece of paper could stop her in her tracks.

Boomer sitting in the hallway behind a long crumpled piece of butcher paper Boomer looking sad peeking through a cracked open door

She was so trusting of people though. You could pick her up and hold her in any position and she’d never even wiggle. And when sitting together, she’d lean her entire weight against you.

Clay holding Boomer in the snowy forest

She could lay in the sun for hours, sprawled on the ground or claiming the sunny spot of the couch.

Boomer reclining on the patio in the sun Boomer sitting on the couch in a sunbeam

She loved to look out the window and would perk up as literally anything went by. She lived for a squeaky toy and finding stray crumbs as we cooked. If there was food around she could not rest, every inch of her body hoping for a bite of carrot or a Cheerio or two.

Boomer and Helo on the couch, Boomer is looking out the open window Boomer grabbing a pizza toy Boomer happily munching on some dog food

Her entire personality was being happy and Helo’s was being grumpy and the two of them became a wonderful duo.

Boomer resting her head on Helo’s back

Knowing we didn’t have much time left with her, we also ordered a custom urn for Boomer. It’s already brought us a lot of comfort.

two ceramic urns that look like our two pups

We miss her so much, but feel such joy and gratitude when we think about our time with her. Rest in peace Boomer, our sweet whippet girl. We hope you and Helo are having a blast together again.

Boomer smiling big while laying on the tile floor Boomer sleeping on some pillows Boomer resting on our dining booth Lynn and Clay selfie with the pups Boomer with a dumpling toy on her back

TV shows should have episodes

I know the way we watch TV has changed a lot since Netflix and other streaming platforms started releasing their own shows. And honestly I love it. I’ll binge a Netflix original in full and sit down weekly for an HBO prestige drama.

But a trend I’ve noticed lately is how a lot of reviews from friends are like:

“It’s slow and boring at first, but picks up around episode 4.”
“I was ready to give up on it halfway through but someone told me to stick with it and it does get good.”
“It takes forever for the story to get going.”

I think this is a symptom of some TV shows fighting against their medium. The episodes are providing natural breaks for the viewer, but aren’t affecting how the story is being told.

A lot of recent shows are actually 10-hour 3-act movies.

This causes the feeling that nothing really happened or changed from the beginning to the end of an entire episode. It takes several episodes to see the story emerging and no single episode has an identity. The good stuff finally starts happening in act 2 or episodes 4/5/6. And when you get to act 3, the payoff does feel worth it. Unless of course there is no natural end to the season either and the show is actually a 20-hour 3-act movie. Hope it doesn’t get canceled before season 2!

I love a several-hours-long watch session, but I really love TV shows that use the medium well. Episodic storytelling is an interesting constraint that brings a lot of creativity. Some shows have single episodes that stick with you forever: that episode where you know the title, can recount the story it told, and love how it fits perfectly into the greater narrative.

Long live episodes.