1/16/10 & 1/17/10

People in Massachusetts might have noticed that this weekend was a little more fun than usual! That's because my cousin and her daughters came to visit!

These are my loves! I used to live near them when I was in college, and I actually lived with them for a few months. As Lisa explained to Matthew: she's somewhere between a mother and a dear friend to me. She's taken care of me while I was sick, celebrated holidays with me while I was far from my parents, comforted my broken heart, laughed, confided, listened, gently told me that I'd made poor hair dye decisions, took me out for my 21st birthday, helped me buy my first car, and on and on. And her girls? They are in my heart every day.

They've recently discovered the joy of AIM and video chat, and I've been talking to them online pretty often. This reconnection spurred some discussion amongst them about coming to visit for a long weekend, which turned into a realization that: hello! THIS is a long weekend! And Thursday I got an email announcing they'd be coming Saturday!

They came to my house from the airport, and here comes the creativity: I somehow managed to clean my apartment from stem to stern, AND make a meal for nine people (the three of them, Lisa's mom/my aunt Polly, my mum, my step-dad, my brother, my youngest sister, and me!) AND somehow serve it in my big-but-not-that-big kitchen!
I made a recipe from the February 2010 issue of Real Simple. It was SO EASY and very tasty:

Creamy Ravioli and Pesto Gratin
1c heavy cream
1/4c pesto
1 16-18oz package of fresh or frozen cheese ravioli
1/4c grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 375.
Prepare the ravioli according to package directions. (I actually skipped this step by accident, and it was still totally fine)
In a large bowl, whisk together the cream and pesto.
Mix in the ravioli.
Transfer to a shallow 2-qt. baking dish and sprinkle with Parmesan.
Bake until golden and bubbling, 25-30 minutes.

I served it with a big salad that had mixed baby greens, grilled chicken, sliced shallots, roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, and grape tomatoes with a simple balsamic vinaigrette. It was a hit!

Then Lis and the girls gamely set forth to Boston, where we visited the Aquarium, and then, tired and hungry again, we went to Mum's house for tacos and Wii.

Sunday, we had plans to do all sorts of things, but we ended up taking it easy and coloring. Of course, I didn't scan or take any pictures of the art we made together (I'll try to remember next time I'm out there) but I promise you this: it was colorful and full of joy.

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