“If cookies be the food of love…munch on.”
-Dame Judi Dench
There are three things about the above quote that I adore: Dame Judi Dench, love and… cookies. If one combines cookies with love, well, that’s an explosion of wonderfulness that could only be topped by adding Dame Judi. Barring that option (and one assumes that’s a given), the combination of cookies and love is a mighty potent mix in itself. And today I had occasion to be the recipient of that marvelous brew:
This is a cookie… a very delicious (yes, I ate one) shortbread cookie designed with the cover of my book as the frosting top. I ask you: WHAT COULD BE BETTER THAN THAT??!
The cookie came in a box of identical cookies, all of which were designed, made, and sent by my cousin in Chicago, Vicky Sarris Blanas, who, with her husband, Larry Blanas, owns the Lawrence Deans Bake Shop in Wilmette, Illinois, a close neighborhood of Chicago. (A little history about them and their bakery can be found in a Chicago Tribune story titled, It Started With Biscotti.)
What is utterly amazing about this unexpected and incredibly touching gift is that it comes from a member of my family whom I only recently met and rarely get to visit, what with her in Chicago and me in LA. But my blood ties with Vicky go way back and are attached to some of the sweetest memories of my childhood:
When I was a little girl visiting my grandmother in Chicago (though the city of my birth, my family moved to a small farm town in northern Illinois when I was three), my sister, Mary, and I often spent time with various combinations of our many Greek relatives. Two who completely captured our little-girl imaginations were women whose names I’ll never forget: Sia and Helen. They were incredibly beautiful young Greek women who couldn’t help but appear particularly glamorous next to our dear but rather classic Greek immigrant grandmother! Their names were always said with Sia’s first: “Sia and Helen.” I can’t remember anyone ever saying, “Helen and Sia.” Don’t know why. Sia and Helen’s mother, Victoria, was the half-sister of my grandmother. And Sia’s daughter is Vicky Sarris Blanas, the baker of my cookies.
I met Vicky and her family during the summer of 2011 when in Chicago for an event, and found their very hip, just-opened bakery on Green Bay Road to be as warm and inviting as a good bakery should be. We later connected on Facebook, particularly in a private family group, and have “liked” and Facebook commented on various posts over the last three years. But, to be honest, I didn’t know she was particularly aware of my book and I certainly didn’t expect her to take the time, and put her creative skills to work, to memorialize it in such a unique and thoughtful way!
But she did… and I am so touched. We will enjoy “munching on” them, as Dame Judi suggests, but I will keep at least two as mementos of not only the launch of my first book, but the love and incredibly sweet consideration of my dear cousin Vicky.
Sometimes the best story about a book isn’t about the book at all….
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