soaking it up

Today the temperature reached 67 degrees and we soaked it up as much as possible.
While the kids napped Scott and I sat on the porch. I worked on a little sewing project and he studied for the GRE. The weather was so nice we decided to cut his hair. There was a lot to cut, believe me. He has thick, black, curly hair that was nearly to his shoulders. Though if I do say so myself, he looks pretty darned handsome with his new short hair. His hair was short when we met, so perhaps I will always favor it on him.
After the kids woke up we headed downtown to a park, where everyone and their neighbor was out playing frisbee, walking their dog, and letting their toddler run free. We followed suit, and enjoyed the day.
Days like this, that come during the winter but are so convincingly spring-like, really lift my mood. Today got my mind wheels turning, and I came up with lots of ideas for writing and crafting. Here's hoping that tomorrow will be just as beautiful as today.


growth spurts

This week has been one of packages coming in the mail. The one above is from my dear friend Natalie who sent me this sweet box of goodies. In the jar is homemade hot cocoa mix. This box also contained some homemade marshmallows, but Finn and I made short work of them, immediately making hot chocolate and plopping the marshmallows on top.
I received packages from two other friends as well, I was giddy with excitement over such snail mail action. Really, what could be better than getting a box in the mail from a dear friend who lives far away?

On the weekend we drove 2 hours and spent a couple days with Scott's mom at her house. After dinner on Saturday night I left and went to sit with the lovely Jamie, my best friend since 9th grade, and we drank wine with friends and chatted late into the night. The best part was spending the night on her couch, tucked in with my wee one, and waking up and having coffee with her. I wish all mornings could start that way. The two of us, old souls and old friends, drinking coffee in the pink morning light, snuggled up on the couch with blankets and my smallest baby.

This week has also been one of contemplation and growth. I feel I am moving in a new direction lately, and it feels invigorating. I am feeling more confident and comfortable with myself. I think these emerging emotions are the fruit of the dark season I've just come out of, one of the darkest of my life.

Growth is hard, but inevitable, and often bears beautiful fruit.
Have you gone through any growth spurts lately?


a silent check-mark

I don't want to leave anyone hanging about the cake, so here goes: I did not bake myself a birthday cake this year! I might still, you know, for my birthday week.
Yesterday was my birthday and between 8:30 - 8:45am my dear friend Rachel brought me a banana coffee cake. That's right! Cake before 9am! That's my kind of a day. Then, closer to 9:30am my sis-in-law Lindsay brought over a bread pudding that her husband made. She put it into bowls, drizzled the icing on top, and stuck a candle in it. She sat our boys down at the table and everyone sang (as well as toddlers can) "Happy Birthday" to me.
The rest of the day passed uneventfully but wonderfully so. I met with a group of women I'm getting to know. All the kids played noisily in Grace's house while us moms sat in the living room chatting and helping the occasional kid with getting into a costume or peeling a tangerine. That evening I was having a terrible sinus headache and didn't want to cook, so we ordered pizza from my favorite place. Scott brought it home with an armful of flowers.

The facebook birthday wishes came rolling in and I felt well-liked and grateful for many good friends in my life. I truly feel different. Just a little older, somewhat wiser. It feels like a silent check-mark, or the gentle flutter of a book page. I am becoming more accepting of myself. I am experiencing the world in a calm, appreciative way. I am learning to be aware, content, and joyful.

I just feel grateful to have made it this far!
I've lived my share of darkness and self-medication, and I'm happily learning new ways to get along in this world. May this year be a wonderful year of growth and light for you as well as for me.


never met a cake I didn't like

My 27th birthday is right around the corner, and I haven't given half a thought yet to what kind of cake to make. I better get to it!
Last year I made this beauty

It was a fig and crystallized ginger cake with a lemon cream cheese icing. It was so incredible. I wanted it to be just perfect, and it lived up to my desires. I put a lot of thought into planning this cake, altering my fig cake recipe with the leftover crystallized ginger I had in the pantry, and tweaking the cream cheese icing I use for carrot cake with lemon juice to complement the fig flavor. This cake takes time to make, because you first have to make fig jam. But that's exactly what makes it so moist.

The year before I made something simple. I made Molly's adaptation of Edna Lewis's Busy Day Cake. Then, not wanting to ruin it with icing (I'm actually not a big fan of icing, though the previous photo may have made you believe so) I just topped it with some simmered mixed berries. And it was melt in your mouth amazing.

Even before I baked from scratch, way back in high school when I was into a different sort of baking (wink wink), I liked to make cakes. I liked to surprise unsuspecting friends with a birthday cake every now and then. I enjoyed being the girl who brings the cake to the party.
When I took on the endeavor to bake and cook from scratch, I continued to make cakes for friends, but they got better. This one is a pretty little number, made for my friend Mimi.

I especially love planning and making my own birthday cake, because it's for my birthday. Which means it can be whatever kind of cake I want. That's exciting! But also a bit of a chore, because I like pretty much any kind of cake. In fact, I've never met a cake I didn't like. In case you ever wondered where the name of this blog came from, perhaps it would help to know that I just love cake in general. And I love to make cakes for no particular reason. Here are a  few of my favorites.
fig cake

french yogurt cake with tangelo glaze

standby fresh apple cake

Needless to say, it's not that I haven't planned my cake for lack of options. Rather, lack of time and quite honestly, lack of care. This year so much has been going on that I haven't put much thought into my cake, but I better start planning right now.

What kind of cake do you like to eat on your birthday?


Say goodbye

Have you ever heard of Miranda July and her art project of web assignments? She worked on it with Harrell Fletcher, another amazing artist. It is called Learning To Love You More. They are no longer taking submissions but I think they are good assignments to do on one's own, for learning, growing, and laughing purposes. So today I will do the last assignment, assignment #70 - Say goodbye. Why not start at the end, right?
 Besides, saying goodbye to old stuff is perfect to do in January. Or February, if you are Chinese. 
The rules are as follows (taking exactly from the website, hence the quotation marks):

"Sometimes it's hard to say goodbye. It just feels easier to keep holding on. But in the long run it's usually a good idea to let go, it's the daring thing to do. It allows room for new things, for transformation. And maybe the goodbye isn't even forever, but you can't know until you really say goodbye and mean it. In some cases, goodbye is really the end, and good riddance! For this assignment, say goodbye to all the things you need to let go of: bad habits, dead people, alive people, ex-boyfriends and girlfriends, self-destructive feelings and behaviors, jobs, projects, re-occuring thoughts, etc.Write it as a simple list: 
Goodbye Bill.Goodbye wetting the bed.Good bye interrupting people when they are talking.etc.It can be as long or as short as you like. And, most importantly, take a moment with each one to really say goodbye. This isn't a catalogue of your fears and faults, this is a ceremony to bid them farewell. Please don't send us HELLOS, only goodbyes."

I did this assignment last year (ha-ha, last month is also last year) but I'm going to do it again, in public. Here goes. 

Goodbye nasty head cold. 
Goodbye negative self-talk. 
Goodbye guilt. 
Goodbye clothes that I no longer wear.
Goodbye passive aggressiveness.
Goodbye old, terrible relationships. 
Goodbye judging others. 
Goodbye self pity. 

I think that's it for now. I felt pretty naked writing that stuff. As you can see, I have a lot of things inside of me to kiss goodbye. 
What do you need to say goodbye to in your life?