Don't worry, before I wrote this I extolled his virtues in a draft for Parenting.com
Reduced Fat Quick Takes With Present At The End

When life hands you orange lemons, write a blog post about it

A week or two ago I went downstairs to use the treadmill and caught sight of a package leaning against my glass front door. I assumed Phillip had purchased some sort of electronic box without telling me, but when I picked it up I saw MY name. And then I saw Elizabeth's name. And my day, which had been slowly swirling down the toilet, started to look up.

Inside were the running mixes she promised me (seven CDs, to be precise, and do you know how much running that is? I don't even want to think about it) and jellybeans and a handful of books I'd been wanting to read. And some roundish orange things.

Those are called oranges, you are saying as you read this, and wondering if maybe you should worry about my role as Chief Cheung Nutritionist. But they were shaped kind of funny. And they didn't quite feel like oranges. But they were orange, so I assumed they were some kind of cooler-than-me California oranges. I AM a Pacific Northwesterner, where there is only enough sun to grow, perhaps, one single orange all year. So what do I know?

Then I read Elizabeth's note, wherein she called the enclosed fruit lemons. Lemons? Since when are lemons orange? Has my Pacific Northwest upbringing steered me so completely wrong in the citrus department?

I left them on the counter, not entirely sure what to do with them.

A few days later Future Pastry Chef Sister stopped by. And I remembered I was in charge of bringing Treats to my meeting that night. The stars, it appeared, were aligned. I managed to talk Future Pastry Chef Sister into making lemon bars with me, only we were going to call them "Lemon" Bars because, seriously, they were ORANGE. Lemon-shaped ORANGES.

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Does that look like a lemon to YOU? And does that look like LEMON JUICE?

While FPCS started the crust, I squeezed out the juice. When I had enough for the recipe (which, by the way, is this one, because FPCS and I know the Smitten Kitchen is where God orders his baked goods) I decided I should probably taste it. Just to see. As soon as I'd recovered from the tartness turning my brain inside out, I declared the mysterious citrus the most lemony-tasting orange in the world.

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FPCS said not to post a picture of her because "I always look fat on your blog." EYE. ROLL. Although maybe we should take bets on when the FPC part will MAKE her fat. IF EVER.

FPCS did all the work while I putzed around, musing about lemon-shaped oranges and the thrill of unexpected packages, and entertained the girl who needs constant entertainment.

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If your life-of-the-party hair was beaten into submission by a rhinestoned clippie you'd be sad too.

And then FPCS was all, "Let me show you my smooth FPC skillz" and demonstrated how to cut a piece of parchment paper to size by rubbing the edges with the dull side of a knife. "Oooh!" I exclaimed. "The blog will love this!"

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Except it took as long as tracing and cutting, and we ended up not using it. Oh well. Fun with knives!

I forgot to take a picture of the crust. I know you're crushed. We watched the Real Housewives of New York City while it baked. Those women are not to be believed, people, not at all. And why certain ones of them consented to a second season is BEYOND ME. Oh, here's what it looked like when we poured the lemon mixture on top.

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Raw eggs and "lemon juice" MMMMM.

And this is what it looked like when it came out of the oven.

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FPCS: "That looks... all right." Maggie: "Nothing a little powdered sugar can't fix!"

And, presto:

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NUM NUM NUM.

Funny, the treats always look better when Smitten Kitchen takes the pictures. Possibly the picture quality is not the fault of the treats. Actually, I thought they were quite good. We used the full recipe, with a thicker lemon layer. And even though we cooked them 5-10 minutes longer, they were still sort of soft in the middle, kind of hard to handle. Not too hard to eat. And, dare I say it, RATHER LEMONY.

I still have half the pan in the freezer. I might include them in my Happy New Neighbor Baby delivery, which I think is going to take place on Monday. Gulp.

Anyway! Receiving a Surprise Package so completely made my day that I thought it'd be fun to send my OWN package. To YOU. Or one of you, at least. I have enough, to quote Elizabeth, "random crap from my house" to fill up a flat rate box no problem. Do you want a present? My random crap is your treasure! (I will not be sending mysterious citrus, in case you are curious, and, now that I am thinking about it, doesn't California have some kind of law banning fruit travel? Or something?) ANYWAY. If you think Random Packages of Stuff are cool, leave me a comment and I'll do a DRAWING. Look at me getting all Official!

OOH. And if you leave a comment on my post at Parenting tomorrow, I'll enter you TWICE. Because I LOVE YOU. How's that for bribery?! (Which, incidentally, is what that post is about: what do I use to bribe my husband to get up in the middle of the night with the baby? GO FIND OUT!)

Comments

Megan

I doubt being first will make me MORE likely to win, but here I am, unless someone else squeaked in.

Jessica

I actually don't need any more random crap in my house... Dylan would kill me if he saw how much stuff I've had delivered from my online shopping binge.... cloth diapers are not cheaper if you buy 20 million... FYI.

BUT, how cool would it be to get a special, awesome package from the Mighty herself?

Cool idea! Snail mail is the best. Especially if there's chocolate in there.

Lindsay

I coud do seven quick comments as this post has piqued my brain 97 ways but limitations and such so:

1)I love how when families grow the furniture stays the same but the babies in them change. I saw the high chair peaking on to the screen and thought oh, here comes Jack, and then I was like oh HI Molly. That's YOUR spot now. So precious.

2) First I learn how to fold a T shirt in like three seconds here and now parchment paper sklls. If only I did laundry or baked....HA!

3) Oooooo draws....how swistle of you! I'm in.

Amy J

Random Package?? I'm in. (Those lemon bars look really yummy). Also, speaking of random citrus, my parents had a lemon tree, and it produced one lemon large enough to make a whole pitcher of lemonade. It was larger than a grapefruit. And bumpy. Ha!

Ashley

My dad has a lemon tree and it grows lemons that are more like grapefruit in both size and color. Weird.

At first glance I thought that was you in the picture, and I thought, "Holy cow, that Hot by Thirty thing is really working!" So please tell your sister she need not worry about "looking fat".

Sheila

I love your blog (found it via Conversion Diary)! And I love random stuff, so count me in!

Carrie

have i ever mentioned that lemon bars are my favorite dessert? oh, and that my birthday is Saturday? and that (assuming I stop accumulating new and interesting sicknesses), you will be seeing me on Monday night? just putting that out there :)

Good luck with the neighbor delivery! I'm sure she'll love to meet you! I saw my upstairs neighbors walking down the street yesterday. She's still pregnant, so I have some time left to come up with courage and a plan of my own to meet them.

I also have no space for random stuff, but had to comment on your post anyway :)

Meg

Ooh, ooh, ooh! I love random packages! So far, the only random packages I have received in three years at my current home were actually for my neighbors. And they weren't packages so much as deliveries. One was a pizza, and one was a dozen roses. I was pregnant for both of those, and it's just plain mean to take pizzas and roses away from a pregnant lady. The pizza guy seemed genuinely sorry, but the flower guy said my whole neighborhood was going to die in a fire because we don't have house numbers (even though we all do-I actually have mine posted in 2 places.) So, I guess what I'm saying is, PICK ME I NEED THIS!!!! I know it's a random drawing, but I'm hoping my desperation will give me some sort of karmic advantage. Oh, did I mention I'm stuck at home with a toddler with a sinus infection? Seriously, I need something uplifting to happen.

Christiana

I probably don't need more random crap in my house, either, but I love getting mail/packages. :) You are the greatest, Maggie! Thanks for being the awesome blogger who updates every day despite the fact you have 2 kids eating up your time. I so look forward to signing into your blog every day and getting a new post!

Emily

I like random stuff! Enter me!

Amanda

My mom just returned from a trip to San Francisco. While there, she called one day just to tell me the lemons were orange. She was totally wigging out over orange lemons, too.

Oh, and I LURVE free stuff! So, I am heading over to parenting now to comment. Yay!

Carrie

It would MAKE MY DAY to get a pkg from you! We had about 3 days of spring in South Dakota, now it's like winter again...how depressing - bring something FUN into my life Maggie!! : )

Kate

I love packages (which might explain my online shopping habit). And, since we have babies almost exactly the same age, I bet I could use some of the random stuff that you have in your house. Although, if my husband knew I was attempting to get more random stuff, he might lose it.

Jess

Fun! I want to win! Perhaps a compliment will help? Because really, I MEAN this compliment. I'm not just sucking up. Your WHOLE FAMILY is adorable. You, and your kids, and your sister, and your husband. EVERY ONE OF YOU.

Jen

They look like oranges to me. You know, I don't think I've ever tasted a lemon bar. I don't really like lemons, so I've never gone after one on purpose.

Tami

Oooooh! A drawing! I love drawings! Not that I ever win anything, but its fun trying, ya know? Anway...please count me in. I'd love to get a package from one my new bloggy friends.
And by the way...I'm rootin' for you on Monday! Your new neighbor is going to LOVE you! Unless she's a freak, and then who needs her!

Ellen W

I'm all for getting stuff in the mail. I also love Smitten Kitchen - I've had my eye on the cream cheese pound cake recipe for Easter dinner.

Charlotte

Yum to the lemon bars! I thought that was a grapefruit from the picture--I always thought grapefruit needed sugar until I lived for a few years where they grew on trees.

Hey, we worked up the nerve to visit our neighbors with the (4-month-old) baby! We brought them food (and I pointed out that we were loser neighbors for taking so long). Unfortunately, Mrs. Neighbor was trying to put the baby down for a nap, so we only talked to Mr. Neighbor. But I saw her yesterday out walking (I was driving), and she smiled and waved--so, yay!

Lindsay

Mmmm, lemon bars. Molly looks like The Godfather in that picture, and it amuses me to no end. And, yes, those do look like oranges. I'm mildly freaked out, but, mmmm, lemon bars.

And, sure. You can put me in the drawing. :o)

Rosemary

Those lemon bars are killing me.

I'm in for the random package drawing!

Good luck with the neighbor visit - she is going to be so happy! Even if her personality (or neuroses) prevent her from conveying the full measure of her happiness.

Lisa

Nothing like a giveaway to make the commenters speak up! Your lemon bars look yummy. I think Molly is sad because you didn't give her one.

Elizabeth

Everyone thinks they are oranges! But they only turn orange when you mail them places. How bizarre. But that is why I put in that note so you would know they were lemons.
also, you are allowed to mail all the fruit you want OUT of California, just not in.
Erik is very pleased that you made lemon bars with "his" lemons as they are his favorite.

Tamara Meade

I like random crap/treasures!

Kelly_Rose

Those look delish! And your sister is skiiiiiiiny!

I'd love a random package! :)

ccr in MA

Those are some seriously orange looking lemons! Weird stuff abounds, doesn't it?

ashley.star

I'd like to be as fat as your sister, please. :)

Christina

Probably too late for the very Official drawing, but wanted to say Hi anyway. :-) Those lemon bars look super yummy. Wish I had a pastry-cook sister who could come over and whip up some for me!

Shelby

In college, the lemon bars from the cafeteria tasted a tiny bit like wet dog. Yours look like they wouldn't taste at all like wet dog!

Can I win random stuff?

Charlotte

I've always been just a little too cool, so if you insist that I enter a drawing for free stuff, I suppose I could maybe possibly find the time in my infinitely packed schedule to jot off a wee entry. Maybe. I don't know. It's not as if I need a package of random fabulousness from one Mrs. Cheung. Not as if I love packages. Not as if it would give me an excuse to return the favor. Perhaps in some type of Easter theme with double faced satin ribbon. But, you know, whatever. Heavy sigh.

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