So after we spent several months settling in, I reapproached Blair with my proposal. He said yes, and last month came over with this:
I am blown away by the craftsmanship and am absolutely giddy about how perfect this mantle is for our home. It's the kind of thing that I'll take down when we eventually sell this place so that buyers can't ask for it in the contract. It's the kind of thing that will have a place in our home forever.
When we asked what we owed him for supplies and labor, Blair very graciously stated that this was a housewarming gift. So. My brain started whirring for a way to express our gratitude: cake. Obviously.
Yesterday was Blair's birthday, and I thought, What better day to bake him his favorite cake than on his birthday? So I went to work during Asher's nap making a German chocolate cake. The smells coming from the oven were delicious, and then it was time to take the layers out of the pan.
And all three layers stuck and fell out in chunks. All of them. That chocolaty, moist cake came out in clumps and crumbs, and I was left facing a bowl of cake guts next to a bowl of signature German chocolate topping.
I didn't have time to make another and had to face the facts that instead of bringing over birthday cake for Blair that I would instead come bearing a bowl of crumbs. At least they were delicious crumbs.
So we picked up Tillamook ice cream on our way to their house, because cake guts are still pretty good when you involve ice cream. I'd like to claim a do-over another day, but Blair and his wife, Kate, were very gracious about the whole thing, because they're good people like that.
At the end of the day when I crash on the couch and look up at this space that's mine to personalize and beautify, I'm just grateful to have wonderful people in my life who are so kind to me and my family. This place here in Oregon is so good to us, even when I produce cake guts in place of a layered dessert.