July is here.

I will wake up each of the 31 days in this month, in the full daylight that is 5:30am this time of year, breathe in the sweet clover, alfalfa and aspen breezing through the screens, and announce to Honeydew, “Time to get up!  It’s my favorite month of the year!”

And though he generally groans and rolls his eyes at me and starts talking about hockey and singing O Canada, I think it’s secretly his favorite month, too.  Why else would we promise each other never to leave Glacier County in July?  Medical emergencies excepted.

I guess.

Only if they’re Maggie’s.

Anyway, we’ve been running around working like dogs, entertaining family and friends, and generally not blogging.  But here’s what we did at the end of June, to celebrate my 31st birthday.

My at-the-time five week old baby girl was the best gift I could even think about getting.

She’s six weeks old now, and still my favorite gift.  I imagine this feeling will continue for quite some time.

But Maggie Rose wasn’t the only gift I got that you can’t order on Amazon.com.  Before she left on a well-deserved vacation, my Mama baked me a birthday cake and hid it in the freezer, with instructions to Brother Dear and Honeydew to serve it on my birthday, along with a bottle of my favorite Veuve Clicquot.

There aren’t words that do justice to the deliciousness of the very simple fudge icing on this cake.  One taste, and I’m in my Grandma Betty’s kitchen, watching her assemble a 14 layer chocolate cake.  We’re all still young, and Howard is there, clamoring to lick the bowl.  But I’m pretty sure that it’s not just my memories that make this icing transcendent … here’s the recipe so you can find out for yourself.

From the Black Family Cookbook, Cathy Black’s recipe for My Favorite Icing of All Time:

3 c sugar

1/2 c cocoa

3 tbls white Karo syrup

1 c milk

1 tsp vanilla

1 stick butter

Mix sugar and coca well in a heavy boiler.  Add Karo syrup and milk gradually; stir mixture until smooth.  Cook over medium heat, stirring until it comes to a boil.  Add butter and stir.  Set aside 10 minutes.  Add vanilla and beat until thick enough to spread by hand.  Do not rake sides of boiler after it starts to boil or it will be grainy.  Spread between cake layers and around the sides of the cake.

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