Our weekend upstate was good, but it didn't include enough cooking! I'm itchin' to go to CT and make bacon cookies or pulled pork or gnocchi. All of which are on my to-do list. Here's a picture of my brother-in-law and me during my most recent trip home:
My sister bought an entire branch (?) of brussels sprouts at the store, so Andrew and I decided to help my mother overcome her lifelong distaste for the little cabbage. My mother loved it, but Molly was wholly uninterested in the process:
As to Alex's cake, I think all of your ideas sound great. I tend towards the traditional, so I would probably make a blackberry filling or use Cook's Illustrated's recipe for foolproof chocolate frosting (I can email it to you). The recipe is pretty basic, but the results are impressive (the secret is corn syrup because it creates a beautifully glossy frosting that doesn't harden or deflate) . I wish I could celebrate with you!