Friday, July 18, 2014

a birthday cake to make ron swanson proud

I love the idea of birthdays and it being your day and getting celebrated a little extra. My husband, however, mostly views it as any other day because he is a normal adult lacks my enthusiasm. In our eight years together, a lot of years have been ho-hum, but there were a few years where I was a birthday ninja and really came through on the birthday front. It's been a few years, so this year, I decided I wanted to reclaim ninja status.

If you remember, in April, we went to Franklin Barbecue, the place the President went just last week with the obnoxiously long line. Upon realizing that it was truly my husband's favorite food on the planet, I announced to a coworker/friend that for his birthday in July (the hottest month of the year in Texas, mind you) I was going to road trip to Austin just to stand in line for smoked meat. Since she is awesome and also a food fan, she said she would come with me, which was perfect because given three months to think about it, I surely would have talked myself out of it. But since someone else was planning her life around my trip, I knew I was locked in - no flaking out for me.

After saying that I had to work late so we couldn't carpool, I sent Andrew off to work and scrambled to pack up my water, sunblock, lawn chair, and the all-important cooler (to keep the meat warm) and my friend met me at my house at 6:30. We made a few stops and got in line around 9:15. It was long, and I was honestly worried that we would be behind the infamous "last man standing" but we were lucky and it looked like enough BBQ would be there for us... after several hours of waiting. Fortunately, it was an overcast day and the weather was pretty comfortable and it didn't rain - could have been much worse!

At this point, we were right outside the door, hurray!

We finally made our way inside the door of the restaurant around noon and ordered around 12:45. We both ordered everything to go, because in my day of barbecue insanity, I wanted to go to Micklethwait BBQ down the street for sausage, moon pies, and jalapeƱo cheese grits. I can't lie, I know that Andrew loved the sausage there and also really liked the other two items, but I loved them. I thought that if I was going to drive nearly 300 miles round trip, then I deserved a few favorites, too. There was nearly no line (yay) but they were out of sausage (boo) and weren't making moon pies for the summer - it was lemon bars instead (NOOOOOO!). I at least got my grits, some more brisket for Andrew, and a lemon bar and slice of buttermilk pie - after all, the birthday boy needed a sweet treat, too.

We were both getting tired and had yet to eat anything relevant all day. My friend wanted to check out Gordough's and since she was nice enough to hang out with me all day, I was fine with that. We went there - it's a food trailer that serves crazy donuts - and both decided it just wasn't that great. It was 2:30 by this time and I wanted to be home by 5:00, so we just headed back toward Houston. I did have to stop at a favorite bakery/gas station, Hruska's, though, for fudge-filled chocolate chip cookies. If I was going to go big, might as well add a little something extra.

Buc-ee's bathrooms are the best | new mural (you can see the old one in my April post) | Franklin's new smokehouse | We left a Giants sticker when we visited in April and it's almost gone - I blame Dallas fans | My "I just got here and this line is long" face | Overcast and I love it | The Mikelthwait trailer | Heavenly Hash donut from Gordough's | Meat cake

I worked really hard to keep this a secret from Andrew. I told him I would pick something up for dinner and tried to text him throughout the day and said I was picking him up a special dessert, but his nosiness got the best of him and he tracked my iPhone to see where I was. Praise Murphy's Law that it didn't work and he never found me, but I thought he had. I had big plans to have his present wrapped and his meat cake set up before he walked in the door, but he walked in before I was completely done. The smell of brisket was too overwhelming so against my wishes, he came in the dining room and saw my little display. I told him to look at it and tell me where it was from and his first question - "Wow, what time did you get in line?" - let me know he knew where it came from. His reaction was really no reaction as he was busy swearing up and down that he had no idea I spent the day in Austin, but he sat on the couch after having his fill and just smiled and said he couldn't believe I did that.... so I think he's pretty happy.

The whole birthday set-up

So this probably sounds crazy - over 300 miles round-trip for barbecue. And it really kind of is. But at the same time, it's so Andrew. He really doesn't ask for much, and often when he asks for things, I am a whiny brat (cleaning the french press, taking out smelly trash, cleaning up my mountain of shoes by the front door). He is always doing nice things for me from stopping for a bottle of wine or a cupcake after a long day, listening to me rant about the same things over and over, and most importantly, trying his best to understand me and make me feel better when I'm venting (often irrationally). He's my person. I know life is defined by the little things, but a big thing thrown in here every so often always makes for a good time.

Besides, next time he asks me to clean the french press you know I'm going to remind him of his brisket birthday cake.

Happy birthday, honey (a day late). Love you to Franklin and back.

{All right bloggers, it's Andrew. Comment below and tell me how I can top this amazing day for Lauren's 30th birthday coming up this fall!}


  1. You win wife of the year! Such a great gift, and perfect for Andrew. That donut thing looks so good. Lauren is a tough one but I know it has to include some good food.

  2. I love me some bbq. And I will have to say that is the BEST birthday cake ever.

  3. I am so excited that the surprise worked! And your presentation was super cute.

  4. Aww, wow!! Now that's extreme as far as birthday surprises go! He must have felt pretty awesome! July must be a hot month for birthdays...Angel's is this week...I will have to see how the surprising part goes...

  5. I'm sorry, did I read fudge filled chocolate chip cookies?!? Is that not just something they serve in Heaven?!?! Drooling.....

    What a great wife of you to do all that planning and waiting to get your husbands favorite thing for his bday!

  6. That's so awesome! You definitely deserve an award of some sorts. I still need to get my butt to Franklins.

  7. I love being a birthday ninja! You really rocked this year's birthday, I hate to tell Andrew but he might not be able to top it!

  8. Happy Belated Birthday to Andrew!! Lauren you are the best and this post had me sweet! I think you need something in your house now that says I love you to Franklin and back :)

  9. I think this is so awesome - you totally rocked this birthday. I was delighted to see the meat cake on Instagram. I hope he had a great birthday!

  10. Happy belated belated birthday, Andrew! Lauren, I am super impressed you went to Austin and got everything you needed for a meat cake. And to keep it a secret on top of that! I would be bursting at the seams.
    David's birthday is coming up at the end of August -- I'd love to do something creative like you did, but we'll see...


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