Birthdays are a peculiar thing for me. I find myself hanging in the balance of 2 very different extremes. On the one side of the scale, I want people to make a great deal of fuss over the day of my birth (and really, everyone elses for that matter), not so much in the form of presents, but more in the form of little things like a special breakfast, silly decorations, a beautiful cake, an enthusiastic serenade left on my voicemail, etc. On the other side of the scale, I don't want to tell said people to make a great deal of fuss and am flummoxed when asked what I want to do for my birthday or even worse, what I want for my birthday. Clearly, I expect a lot but don't want to reveal expectations. Rather, I want others to perform magic by reading my mind and knowing precisely what would produce the most amount of joy and revelry. That's a tall order for my friends and family, so if you are either, my sincerest apologies...
If you know me, you might be wondering why I'm writing a birthday post when my birthday is still a good 3 days away. This would be a fair question to which I shall respond with gusto that I will be celebrating my actual birthday in northern California, taking on San Francisco and the Napa/Sonoma wine country. Therefore, we were forced to carry out my family celebration 5 days prior on Sunday, of which you should know, I'm totally oppposed. I always hold a very firm stance that the birthday celebration with the family be on the actual day, but in this case, my trip trumped my rules. Despite all of my protests and overall disinterest, my family rallied together and we had a most joyous time togther.
We started the afternoon with a rare trip (as in I can't remember the last time we went to see a movie together) to the movie theater to see Seasons of Gray which is a Watermark (as in the church I attend) film. It was by no means a blockbuster or Academy award winning film, but it had a solid message and I wanted to support something that some really great people worked on and invested resources in.
After the movie, we headed back to the casa to keep the merriment going with dinner, cake and presents. At this point, the gang was all here which included my 2 favorite party princesses: Haylee and Meredith. I should point out that I'm still working on getting Meredith used to taking pictures with me. If there's 2 points of qualifying criteria for this family, one is most certainly a willingness to take and be in superflous amounts of photos. She's got a lot to learn. (The other, in the event you are at all interested, would be that you must be willing to dance any time, anywhere and to any music...even if it's in your head.)
I had grand ideas of making stuffed mushrooms for an appeteaser (the Office anyone?), but I just kind of freestyled the recipe which didn't exactly produce the culinary delight I was hoping for. They weren't bad, but I think I will be consulting a recipe for the next go-round, at least as a guide. My dad was a willing participant and scarfed the majority of those puppies down. I can always count on him to never let a crumb go to waste (waste not, want not), and for that I am very appreciative.
Since it is now customary for me to have a pizza dinner for my birthday (as in, that's been my cuisine de choice for the past 3 birthdays now), I decided I should keep with the tradition and I had just the spot in mind. Several months ago, my fousin (and true pizza afficianado) introduced us to the one and only Cavalli's and I've never been the same. (Elisa, the pics below are for you.) In an ideal world, we would have set outside on their quaint patio, sipped glasses of their homemade sangria and reveled in the beauty that was a most pleasant evening (below 90 degrees). However, Meredith is not exactly at an age where she willingly submits to sitting in one place for more than 8 seconds, so our feast was shared in the comfort of our home where Mere was free to romp and roam as she pleased. The pizza was extra delicious on Sunday and we devoured every last savory bite.
Hailey patiently waited throughout the entire meal for the highlight of the evening: birthday cake. She must have declared 10 times that it was time for birthday cake and we finally submitted to her demands after the 10th declaration. I should make note that this was no store bought, standard birthday cake. No way, jose. I ain't no holler back girl and if there's one thing I take very seriously, it's cake. Accept no substitutes! I requested my Dad's specialty (since I've forced him to make it 3 times now) which is a homemade strawberry cake with strawberry frosting. It was every bit as delicious as I remembered. The dense cake, lathered with a thick coating of creamy frosting, topped with fresh, ripe strawberries...perfection. I may have enjoyed it a little too much and sent myself into a sugar coma (including a case of the sugar sweats), but it was worth it.
My much too generous family surprised me with a new Vera Bradley duffel bag which was a total surprise. I am humbled by their desire to bless me, even though it is far from a necessity and they themselves could probably use a new bag much more so than myself. Nevertheless, I will honor them by breaking it in on my trip this weekend and using it every single chance I get...even if it means booking more fun trips. I will make that sacrifice!
All in all, it was a night overflowing with love, good food and even better company. I fully intend to make this last year in the decade of my 20s count.