If You Having Girl Problems, I Feel Bad For You Son

Just a small sampling of what I'm dealing with.


Caili is a fantastic roommate. Honestly, living together has been really harmonious. But until six months ago when we got married, I’d never lived with a girl before. Here’s what I’ve learned in my short journey in the land of female roommates. These are really just based on one girl–Caili–but haven’t we learned that when it comes to gender/ race/ sexual orientation, it’s better to just generalize about people?

They’re really concerned with smells.
Caili has one scent for her bath products and another for her perfume. One for a room spray and another for candles that she lights when guests come over. She wants to make sure that every time she smells a smell, it’s a good one. But it doesn’t stop there–she also has a thing about demanding we close our bedroom door every time we cook meat in the adjoining kitchen. Apparently she doesn’t want our bedding and all of her clothes to smell like cheeseburgers. And all this time, I thought that smell was an aphrodisiac.

They watch what you eat.

Not what they eat, necessarily–but the food choices you’re making. My Dad always says that if he lived alone, he wouldn’t make it another five years, since there’d be no one to stop him from eating whatever he wanted all the time. On this I agree. Often when I’m standing at the pantry, Caili’s mouth says “I love you” but her eyes say “Do you really need to polish off that whole bag of gummi bears while we’re cooking dinner?”

They have SO many toiletries.

I’m no caveman or anything–I like my hair gel and nice shaving cream–but I can’t believe how many bathroom items Caili has. Our cabinet is overrun with lotions, creams, gels, ointments and salves of all kinds. I have no idea what most of them are for, but as long as she does I guess we’re okay.

They’re sensitive about TV shows and movies.

This might be specific to Caili, who is also the world’s harshest movie critic, but girl roommates really would prefer you don’t watch violent shows. Caili made it through about 5 minutes of a Boardwalk Empire episode with me before someone got shot in the head. Her immediate response: “Why would anyone watch this??” Other girls may not be as sensitive about this, though–after all, Caili is on record as saying she doesn’t like any movies with “guns, explosions or surprises.”




Where Have All The Cupcakes Gone?

I’ll save you some time here. The answer is always, ALWAYS, “In Caili’s stomach”. I have passed cupcake binges off as dinner, sneaked them in after breakfast and eaten my nephew’s discarded cupcake after a birthday party…drool and all. And while I don’t discriminate against cupcake flavors, I think I found one that makes the other flavors yell, “Marcia, Marcia Marcia!”



The best part about it? I made it. Which means no more explaining/justifying $6 Sprinkles charges to Neil. I can’t take credit for this paper-encased miracle, but you can still be intimidated by me since I made my own caramel sauce.



Here is the recipe –  make this!



With liberty and cupcakes for all,





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The Neil and Caili Show

Now that we’ve gotten you all stoked for this living room transformation, it might be a good time to mention that this is probably going to be the biggest let down in blog history… but we’ll give it a go.

Before – Our new C&B couch does all the talking:

Ready for the after?

(Insert Ty Pennington) MOVE. THAT. BUS! (Sorry we didn’t bother to fix the cushions. We probably wouldn’t even if you were coming for dinner)

Totally stating the obvious here, but we have gone a little bit overboard on the wedding photos. We like to refer to our home right now as The Neil and Caili Show, because the only magnets on our fridge are leftover Save-the-Dates. To the right of this wall, we have a massive canvas of one of our engagement photos. And the slide show on our TV/computers is our engagement/wedding/honeymoon on loop. We’re working on it!

Who better to enjoy the N+C wall than the narcissists themselves?

We need some new pictures….



Happy Leap Day!

It only comes once every four years, and it’s like it never happened at all–it’s Leap Day. I imagine that in olden times, you could’ve committed a crime on February 29 and then at your trial, you could dramatically exclaim: “But Your Honor! Everyone knows February has but 28 days!” Case dismissed.

Anyway, before you start to look ahead to your plans for March–or flip over to the next month in your “babes” or “hunks”-themed wall calendar–here’s a final February photo: a baby in his finest Leap Year regalia. Presenting our new nephew Damien in a frogman suit, ready to leap onto the next lily pad and grab some flies with his extra-long tongue. You have to start eating solid foods sometime.

This day never happened…


ADIDAT: The Neil Helsper Story

Neil’s cube neighbors, work microwave sharers and occasional house guests are all too familiar with the 12:15 cumin odor that surrounds him each day and settles in the air like a heavy fog. A true creature of habit, Neil has eaten tacos for lunch an estimated 950 out of the last 1,000 days. If I were in Vegas and playing Neil’s Lunch Roulette, I would put my money on black (tacos) every time. (If you are wondering what the red would be in this analogy, it’s meatball anything.)

How much does Neil love tacos, you ask? So much that I once caught him eating just the shells because he was out of taco meat. So much that we have to buy Taco Bell seasoning in bulk. So much that when he “needs a break” from them, instead of taking an actual break he switches to taco bowls for a carb-free indulgence – taco meat, black beans, cheese and salsa/hot sauce in a bowl.

I know you think I am exaggerating, and I don’t blame you. So I’ll show you first hand the best that I can. The other day over lunch, I lied and told Neil that I was just practicing with my new camera and taking pictures of all the details in our apartment and our new couch. I believe my exact words were, “I’m telling a story.” Well I was telling a story alright, I was telling a story about a boy whose sodium levels have got to be just atrocious. I was capturing the pure joy of my husband eating his taco lunch for the 951st time.

But honestly, have you ever seen anyone so happy?


With Tacos and Enchiladas For All,


It’s What’s On The Inside That Counts

Wait, seriously? Shoot.

Neil and I have been relying on our condo’s incredible views to wow our guests. I guess we were sort of hoping that no one would focus too much on our bare walls. (Don’t get too impressed, we’re just renting.) When we wake up to this, decorating is the last thing on our minds:

The truth – and real reason – is that despite working at HGTV, I am not so great at decorating. (Don’t tell my boss!) But something rare happened this morning; Neil and I woke up with a sudden disgust for our bare walls, and enough determination to actually do something about it. One trip to Michael’s and two Qdoba burritos later, we had a plan.

Neil was hard at work and Caili was hardly working.

Before and after pictures coming soon! Hint: There is an ‘H’ involved.



We’re Not In Kansas Anymore (Because We Only Went There for One Day)

On Sunday, our parents/parents-in-law Guy and Patti were flying to Kansas City anyway, so Caili and I decided to hitch a ride. The coolest thing about this? We didn’t have to book a ticket, go through security, or overpay for Gardetto’s at Hudson News. Nope–we were flying in Guy and Patti’s 4-seater plane! (Or as Guy would probably prefer I call it, the PA-28 Piper Arrow.)

Not that you need a reason to fly around in a private plane, but we had a specific goal for the day: get to Kansas City and see our brand-new nephew, Damien. He’s managed to pack a lot of life experience into his five days on earth and a lot of cuteness into his 7-pound frame.

We arrived in downtown KC at about noon and raced to his house to meet him and to see the rest of his family. Our nearly 2-year-old nephew Kendan was a pleasure as always, trying to con us into giving him candy from the pantry and telling us about the “bock-bock” (chicken) he was going to eat at lunch. He seems less interested at this point in his doppelganger Damien. (Doppelganger, of course, is German for “someone who moves into your house unexpectedly and starts wearing all your old clothes.”) But we are sure that as Damien gets bigger–and shows Kendan that he’ll be a good partner for golf in the front yard–that their friendship will grow.

As we flew home that night, the thought of two beautiful nephews in our minds and the whirring of a propeller in our ears, we felt very thankful to live in an era of air travel, good postnatal care and plentiful chicken fingers.

Celebrate Love

Growing up, Valentine’s day meant waking up to a bag of candy outside my room from mom, chocolates from my brother (usually the kind shaped like race cars, baseballs or monster trucks), flowers from my dad, and cupcakes baked by my big sister. This Valentine’s Day, Neil and I are making sure to celebrate all of the love we have been given. Family, extended family, friends and work friends. Parents, nephews, and each other. So many reasons to be thankful.



Cheers to love!



Say It With A Cake

When our friends Drew and Shea asked me to help them break the news of a new sibling to their daughter, I knew just what to do: blind her with sugar. I got right to baking and hurried over as soon as the frosting was set. Because when words won’t do, say it with a cake.


Someone’s having a boy!



Yes, I know. We went to great lengths for a one year old who has no idea what’s going on.



But then I caught a moment where, I think, it all sunk in. We’ve all seen this face before – on this blog even. I think her regurgitation of little blue crumbs was her way of protesting.



Self-soothing with sugar. That’s my girl. Eat your feelings!



Siblings have got to be just the worst news ever…Omi took all day to recover.



For future reference, if anyone has bad news for me I insist that you tell me over a cupcake.




Looking To Get Chubby? There Are Apps For That.

The Helsper Chef Trifecta is back with another cook off. This time, we attempted to solve an age-old problem: filling up on appetizers and having no room for dinner. Except we don’t see it as a problem, we see it as awesome. This week’s challenge was Appetizers: Reinvented. Why not make a meal out of ’em?

Things got intense, fast. Ten minutes in, Neil and Eric were already fighting over two feet of counter space and I think it unearthed some resentment from that one Nerf gun fight in the dark in 1991.

Once things calmed down, I jumped in to see what was going down. Neil was hard at work with a mallet and toothpicks, so I knew he was going to live up to his reputation of choosing the concept that is least likely to work…Yet somehow his always ends up at the top of the rankings.

Eric surprised us with some sort of dumpling concoction. Was he reinventing the dumpling into a new dumpling? So not the concept. Let’s hope not.

My prep was going swimmingly, because I showed up early and claimed the biggest counter top.

Finally the prep work was done, and it was time to get to it. Neil’s was the first out of the oven fryer.

His recipe was a reinvention of the mozzarella stick.

Wait, are you kidding me? Can we get a closeup of that?

He combined the mozzarella stick with the ever-popular chicken crisper and made chicken sticks stuffed with mozzarella, breaded, deep fried and served with marinara dipping sauce. How he pulled it off I don’t know but we ate every last bit. So good!

Next up was my dish. I reinvented the jalapeno popper. Making it into a grilled cheese was surprisingly easy and crazy, crazy delicious. Jalapeno cheddar bread was topped with a layer of cream cheese, roasted jalapenos, cheddar jack cheese and panko bread crumbs (you can’t forget the crunchy topping!).


I was obsessed with my sandwich. It was all I could think about. That is, until….

Don’t hold your breath for this sentence, it’s a long one. Eric’s submission was French Onion Soup: realized in individual dumplings in a Swiss cheese bath, sprinkled with bits of compound butter and green onion, and topped with a homemade crouton. It was the entire french onion experience, in one bite.

Mr. Fluffypants always comes up with these long-winded recipes, but the guy knows what he’s doing. I’m trying to get this recipe from him so that you can all try it, but it’s taking longer because he MADE IT UP as he went. Talent.

I am telling you, you HAVE to try a cook off (and invite us). I never knew any of us could come up with such creative and fun new recipes. It was definitely the highlight of our week.




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