L to R: Mads, Me, Megan, Jeanne, Allison, Kat.

The second installment of One Kitchen, Many Hearts gift boxes could have easily be subtitled In Which Two 45th Parallel Ladies Strive to be Texans. Kat & I may share a parallel in the global sense, but we share many other parallels in the karmic sense. Because we’re all Zen & stuff.

Lately, Kat has been taunting me posting a lot of dishes from Lisa Fain’s The Homesick Texan Cookbook on her weekly Friday Food Round-Up @ TenacioulyYours. The posts have led to many, many mouthwatering day dreams in which jalapenos and chili peppers feature prominently. I broke down and bought the cookbook for myself (no arm-twisting necessary,) and let me tell you–awesome doesn’t even begin to describe it. I love that Lone Star State food like crazy!

So when I was greeted by a cowboy boot on the envelope of the enclosed card, I knew that good things were about to happen.

Boy, was I right. The plethora of amazingness included in my box made my heart skip a beat.

My boys are just in it for the bubble wrap.

The best thing about getting anything via Kat are the descriptive post-it notes. Reading them is kind of like meeting up at a cafe somewhere and workshopping over scones and chai–you can’t help but smile.

My favorite note was on a seemingly innocent rectangle. Kat bought something that she loves and knew that I would too; but later she noticed that it was manufactured on the same equipment as peanuts & tree nuts. Peanuts & tree nuts are a no-go in my house for food allergy reasons, and she was concerned about contaminating our environment. Isn’t that thoughtful? After a few direct messages, we decided that the item could be included. After all, I had no intention of sharing my candy.

The wrapping effort was an effort worthy of Homeland Security. What you see is aluminum foil securely wrapped in several layers of packing tape.

After breaking through the first few layers with bolt cutters scissors, I found a lovely bar of salted dark chocolate encased in a zippered bag. Not only is Kat very conscientious, but she’s also very thorough. Her expert wrapping kept the chocolate from possibility of contaminating anything else in the box. I don’t have to worry about Son #2 accidently getting into this particular bar of chocolate because I have no intention of sharing it…with anyone. I have a Secret Stash of things such as these. OK, two Secret Stashes. Don’t tell the Bacon Slayer.

In addition to the Choluha hot sauce, canned & dried chili peppers, and chocolate, there was wild rice grown in Minnesota. Did you know that they grew wild rice in Minnesota? I had no idea.

Of course Girlfriend knows of my deeply-rooted chai obsession. I had never tried this particular variety, and I must say that I really, really like the smoothness imparted by the vanilla.

Also in the haul was this beautifully hand embroidered towel. Look for it in many future food post here on the blog. Embroidery is totally beyond my skill set, so I totally love this 11/10.

Everything that Kat sent was well thought out and perfect in every way. But this nail polish? The nail polish pushed this whole goodie box experience over the edge of ridiculous. (In a good way.) With the amount of time I spend in the kitchen and washing my hands on a daily basis, painting my fingernails is an exercise in futility. I’m lucky if I can get a full day out of a manicure before the polish starts to chip. Therefore, I rarely bother painting my nails–it’s just going to chip off and irritate me. (Pedicures are quite another story. Pedis are essential in my world.)

But Revlon Colorstay changed all that. I am all sorts of Jazz-Hands-Excited over this nail color! Why?

This is my manicure after 3 days. THREE! One of which was a heavy baking day! Not a single chip in the polish. I did get a few chips on day 4, but I can live with that. I did not baby my manicure even a little bit, and I got three solid days of feeling girly & feminine without a single chip in my polish. I think I’m in love.

Run, don’t walk to pick up a bottle for every woman you love.

I tell ya what–this is only the second go ’round of One Kitchen, Many Hearts, but I already look forward to it like a holiday. I love picking up a little of this and a little of that for my recipient over the course of two months. I’m so confident that I sourced just the right things that I’m bursting with excitement to hear about their reactions to it all.

But for as much as I enjoy the giving aspect of OKMH, I also get very excited when I see the tell-tale flat rate shipping box hit my doorstep. So much so that I start doing a little happy dance right there on the porch. My mail carrier loves that reaction.

I’m pretty excited about what I found for Allison, so if you want to see what I picked up for her, click on over to Decadent Philistines and check out the Up North booty that I sent to her desert home.

To see what kind of fun & goodies everyone else received: