Tuesday evening, Alice and Dude were watching the Cooking Channel, and Kelly was reading Gourmet Cooking, Vol. 3.
Although Alice was Level 10 in Gourmet Cooking (thanks to all the gourmet meals she had prepared for the Utopia House), she was still only about halfway through Level 8 of Cooking, and knew the TV channel would help her improve that basic skill.
"So, how are rehearsals going for the upcoming tour?" she asked Dude.
"Great!" he enthused. "We're sounding REALLY good these days!"
Kelly, partly because she had been spending so much time with Derek, had only just reached Level 7 of Gourmet Cooking,
and her friends had hinted broadly that she would soon be receiving a wedding present that would require her to get to Level 9 in order to get the most out of the item.
Regina was writing, and glancing occasionally out of the window into the yard,
where Bill was pacing back and forth and talking to Peter, who'd just come home from work.
"I don't know WHERE this delivery guy is!" complained Bill. "He was supposed to be here HOURS ago, while the girls were out shopping."
About a half hour later, Regina finally got the signal from Bill. "Okay," she said, jumping up from her computer. "Everybody outside!" she called gaily.
The group walked outside.
"Ta-da!" exulted Alice.
Kelly stopped and stared at the huge machine in the corner of the yard. "What IS it???" she asked, stunned.
"IT'S A CUPCAKE MACHINE!!!" Alice exulted. "So you can make cupcakes! And once you get to Level 9 of Gourmet Cooking, you can SELL cupcakes to the local bakery, and make extra money on your days off!!!"
"Wow--this is really something," Lou marveled. She had pitched in for the present, but hadn't seen a picture of it. "How did you think of this?" she asked Bill.
"Alice heard about it from her colleagues at the restaurant while doing research on what Regina and I should get for our kitchen," Bill said.
"This is SUCH a great present!" Kelly shrieked. "Can you show me how to use it?"
Alice demonstrated the machine.
"Look--BAAAAAACON cupcakes!" Alice announced enticingly.
"That is BEYOND cool!" Dude enthused.
Since it was now evening, and the mosquitoes were starting to bite, everyone went inside to enjoy the cupcakes.
"Hey, Alice," Dude suggested, "these are so tasty that maybe you should make Kelly's wedding cake out of this!"
"Well," Kelly said slowly, "they ARE great, but I think I want something a BIT more traditional than a bacon wedding cake...."
"Don't worry," Alice assured her, "I'm on it!"