Thursday, July 30, 2015


The morning of my birthday he asked if I wanted a cake. I said, "Not unless my name is on it." Bless his heart he bought some cookie decorating pens and wrote my name on it."

The weeks leading up to my birthday I didn't want to celebrate it. In fact, I didn't even want to recognize it and hoped to let the day quietly pass by. This is a huge detour from my usual hopes and dreams of a surprise party. Ever since I was little I've wanted a surprise party but it's never happened. I think it has something to do with my mother. It's strange celebrating your birthday without your mom calling you.

On the day of my birthday, we had our big show for the school and I went home exhausted and already fulfilled. To my surprise, the apartment was decorated in streamers and a Happy Birthday banner. There was a huge wrapped box on the dining room table. Cue heart flutters. Mr. B assured me there was no surprise party and I was grateful for that. 

He then asked what I wanted to do and I decided on some Thai food and an early evening. 

I get ready. I barely put on make-up. I wear my go-to Summer dress. There's a knock on the door.

It's Cydney. What is she doing here?

Then another knock. It's Niki! Niki? What...

Then Abbey. Then Sarah.

Then Mr. B says, "You have a reservation at a fancy Italian seafood restaurant." Seafood and Italian is my favorite. He then sends off all he ladies with an envelope of cash and a birthday girl pin on my chest. It was like Pretty Women but with streamers and tiramisu.

After dinner, the ladies came back to the apartment for ice cream cake and gifts and more laughter and story telling. I felt very loved.

I have to say, this birthday beat every other birthday I've had. Even the Care Bear party when I was five wasn't as wonderful as this. Thank you, Mr. Branflake. You did good.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Country vs City

My mom was a city girl who grew up in a big house in Berkeley, CA. Her childhood was surrounded by the Civil Rights movement and Beatlemania. I loved hearing stories about my grandfather's auto shop in Oakland and how he fixed up cars for the Black Panthers and built hot rods from scratch.

My dad came from a small rural town where there was one street light between miles and miles of farmland. I loved visiting his home and grew up dreaming of one day owning a small home in some rural part of the world where walks in thick grass and sunsets unobscured by buildings were an every day thing.

Then there's me: a product of suburbia and Target.

I don't think anyone plans on ending up in suburbia, but I do believe it takes a special kind of grit to live in either the city or the country. Grit and personality. Extreme environments create a wonderful breeding ground for diverse thinking and thoughtful living.

I've been thinking a lot about where I want to end up. The city girl in me hates bugs, darkness, and planning ahead, but I love to think about living in utter quiet one day.

Maybe it's a generational thing. My generation is obsessed with rustic. We love things pretty and charming but not perfect. We've gone back to our pioneer roots of ball jars, floral aprons, and eating fruit in season. Farmhouse restaurants with big, wooden tables filled with hipster diners reign in even the biggest metropolitan areas.

It's an agrarian movement I fully support, although the face and purpose of it is quite different than what our parents knew. But maybe it's coming back for a reason- simplicity is needed once again.

I'll be honest, I'm not sure why I wrote this post, but I have this need to talk about my parents. They had such diverse, interesting backgrounds and I didn't appreciate that until now. I'm part city girl and part country and it wasn't until now I realized this duality came from them.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Cherry Picking

Growing up, cherry picking was serious business in our family. We would head to Lodi, CA and spend an afternoon filling huge flats of cherries for our friends and family. On the way home, we perfected the art of spitting pits of the window without staining our hands and shirts. It was the mark of the beginning of Summer for us.

While visiting Sean and Steph in Indiana, we went cherry picking after a failed attempt at strawberry picking. We grabbed our buckets, headed into the orchard, and gloried in all the beautiful plump, red fruit surrounding us. The little ones were the perfect helpers and the older ones (me) ate much more than they picked. Sampling was encouraged, thank goodness.

The days after included cherry chocolate pies, cherry cakes, and chocolate dipped cherries. It was a wonderful way to begin a lovely Summer.

What marked the beginning of Summer for you?

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Girl's Weekend by the Lake

Those who know me know there was a time I was addicted to Twitter. I met a huge network of people also addicted to Diana Gabaldon's books and I was suddenly thrown into a world of women (and some men) who loved to read, write, eat, and talk. 

Two women in particular came into my life and I finally got to meet them a few weeks ago at Klaudia's lake house in Michigan. People might think it's crazy to meet people for the first time by spending a weekend with them, but you really can't go wrong with good hearted people from Michigan. 

The three of us spent the weekend eating, talking, and, well... eating.

Klaudia made a s'mores buffet for us.

There was a bonfire in their backyard where people from the neighborhood gathered to talk, drink, and eat delicious coconut, caramel, chocolate, and strawberry marshmallows.

Klaudia showed me how to gather sea glass, which is a lot more tricky than I realized.

Klaudia set up the weekend perfectly. She greeted Jen and I with bed and breakfast quality sleeping arrangements and gift bags. Gift bags! Who does that? It was all above and beyond wonderful. She brought treats from her uncle's bakery that included freshly baked cronuts, muffins, brownies, and donuts. Her family is from Yugoslavia, so she cooked and bought us traditional Yugoslavian food, a beautiful blend of Mediterranean healthy and buttery cheese wrapped in phyllo dough.

The weather was horrible, so any plans on jet skiing or paddle boarding went out the window. But I honestly didn't mind. Simply being with these women and Klaudia's very generous three daughters and husband made the weekend exactly what it needed to be.

Thank you Klaudia, Jen, and Diana Gabaldon for a wonderful weekend.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Marie Antoinette Garden Party Baby Shower

My friend, Sarah, loves Marie Antoinette. In fact, she loves her so much, last year she celebrated her birthday in Versailles. Having a Marie Antoinette inspired baby shower just seemed like the right thing to do (her gender reveal party was Peter Rabbit). We wanted to recreate one of Marie Antoinette's famous garden parties, so we chose pink, green, and gold as our colors and everything French as our food.

Cydney is the queen of decor. She did this cake and the birdcage centerpiece. Amazing!

Sarah adores chocolate covered strawberries. They were quite easy to make and absolutely delicious.

It was a magical night of guests wearing floral halos dining, chatting, and sharing baby stories. Pregnancy is hard, so we wanted to bring some elegance, splendor, and je ne sais quois to a dear friend's life as a first time mother.