I am typing this post from the back office at Delancey, where I’m holed up, working on a deadline, while Brandon and Co. prepare a five-course meal for forty-five in celebration of a gorgeous new book. Deadline: I will destroy you. In more ways than one.

But I had to take a break to pop into this space, and to send up a cheer – if you can, in fact, hear me from back here behind the Essex walk-in – that it has been nine years today since this site was born. Nine! I was a delinquent graduate student then, giddy to be creating a space to write about things other than Michel Foucault and discourse analysis and anything described by the word liminal, and if you had told me what would happen in the nine years to come, I would have told you to stop teasing, that it was cruel. NINE years! I said to Brandon the other day that, oddly, I still feel like the same person I was that summer, when I was twenty-five and newly single and energetic and very eager to bake cakes, listening to a lot of Ted Leo and living in an apartment that overlooked a grocery store parking lot. Will I always feel like that person? I hope I will. I also hope that I will always feel as grateful as I do today, when I think about what has happened, and who has happened, in the last almost-decade.

Today, as it happens, is also our sixth wedding anniversary. And this morning I started planning a party – just a small one, mostly family and carrot cake and nothing remotely Pinterest-worthy – in celebration of June’s first birthday, which is coming up soon. It’s been a big day today, and also a happily ordinary one: a baby, a babysitter who showed up with new barrettes for the baby, a dog with an injured tail, a lot of work to do, a visit with a good friend, a lot of great food.

I took the pictures in this post on July 9 at Skagit River Ranch, where Brandon and his team spent the day cooking a dinner for Outstanding in the Field.  I am so proud of Brandon – that he was asked to do it, that he and his sous chef Ricardo “Regulator” Valdes made the most insane brisket I have ever eaten, that they managed to douse the flames when the smoker caught on fire with all of the pork inside, that the pork was perfect anyway, that he didn’t fall asleep on the long drive home. I somehow took no pictures of him that day, but he was there. Let the record show.

I started this blog for myself, because I needed it.  But because of it, I got a Brandon, and then a Delancey, and then an Essex, and this back office that I’m sitting in, and a June, and days like today, and nights like the one in these pictures – and along the way, you’ve been here, too.  Thank you.  I’m so glad for all of it.  And before I get any sappier tonight, I’m heading home to bed.

See you back here in a couple of days.