Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte, worthy of an 80th birthday celebration

Dan’s grandpa celebrated his 80th birthday this past weekend and requested a cake.  When asked what he liked, Dan’s grandma suggested something with cherries, and this was the first thing that came to mind.  Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte is much more exciting to say than what English speaking counterparts call this: Black Forest Cake.  And, we don’t even acknowledge the star of the show – cherries (kirsch) in our translation!  Anyhow, I’d never made such a cake, but I definitely have eaten it before.  I used this recipe from Saveur that went the traditional German route, soaking the tart cherries with Kirsch (cherry liqueur), and including a bit also into the whipped cream frosting and the cherry syrup that you brush onto each cake layer.  Instead of decorating the cake with the kirsch-soaked tart cherries, I thought it would be more beautiful to have sweet cherries, stems and all, adorning the mounds of whipped dream frosting.

Since I forgot the candles at our house, this amazing little wax birthday candle set was pulled out of the back of some closet.  Isn’t it adorable?  I didn’t even care that it crushed the chocolate curls I worked so hard on!  And, I didn’t even care that Dan’s grandpa called me Amy a few times – it’s was his birthday after all, and that cake was delicious.


Jack is three!

While we celebrated his party this past weekend, today is Jack’s birthday.  I adore this photo of Jack on the day he was born, sitting in my mom’s lap and holding his daddy’s finger!  It’s impossible to avoid getting sappy when my little dude is celebrating a birthday.  Of course I reflect on carrying him in my belly for oh so long, the long labor, and bringing him home to our tiny San Francisco apartment where we learned the ropes of being parents to such an amazing little dude.  I can’t help but look through photos of his fist few days in the world, as we were learning about his personality, how he preferred to be held and what each tiny cry meant.  All the cliches you constantly hear about how fast they grow and how you really need to savor every single moment are so true.  As much as I miss Jack being a cuddly little baby who would nap in my arms, every year gets so much more exciting.

He’s three now!  We’re having conversations, he’s asking so many questions and is so curious about the world.  He’s insanely observant and beautifully considerate.  Of course there are melt downs and fits, but that’s part of learning how to cope with new emotions all the time.  So as frustrating as it may be at times, like when he’s laying in the shade on the grass in the park refusing to set foot in the hot sun ever again, I try to remember it’s normal and it will pass.  The knock-knock jokes, the constant laughter, the way he melts when he sees babies, his way of sweetly comforting his friends when they’re sad or hurt, and the adorable things he tells us every day outweigh the minor craziness of this age.  I adore this kid, and I feel so honored to be his mama.

Tried to get a sweet little smile, this is what he insisted on!


Birthday Post

I’m entering the final year of my twenties.  I’m totally cool with that, I always wanted to be a real grown up with a briefcase and lady business suits.  Even though I don’t have that stuff, I am getting closer to feeling like more of an adult every day.  I mean, I do have a child which was what I used to think being an adult meant.  But, Teen Moms, anyone?  They’re totally famous now, and no longer a qualifier of “adult.”  I do go to bed/wake up early and I enjoy eating vegetables.  I also lean pretty close to following rules, and when I’m not, you’ll see me looking over my shoulder.  Literally.  Now you’d think these would be classic stipulations of adulthood, but I’ve always done those things.  I used to steal lima beans off of my sister’s plate and she’d feign caring, “No…stop…those are mine…” as she’d push her plate toward my hand.  On the flip side, I do things all of the time that make me feel Not Adult.  I whine when I have to do dishes, my bedroom is covered in clothes, I have the Why-Make-My-Bed-When-I’m-Just-Going-To-Mess-It-Up mentality, and I enjoy shopping at Forever 21.  (At least it’s not called Forever 13 or something.  I’d probably still shop there though).  So maybe my twenty-ninth rotation of the sun means I am that much closer to truly feeling like an adult.   Who knows, maybe I’ll be in Adulthood limbo forever, and I’m cool with that too.

I love celebrating birthdays (and not just my own!).  Giving thoughtful gifts is completely thrilling to me, and I’m not going to pretend like I don’t love receiving them too.  This changes as you get older, of course.  Your pals aren’t so quick to drop their allowance on the latest and greatest My Little Pony for your slumber party.  They’re not pooling their lunch money like they did in high school, in order to get a crazy amount of balloons from the school store, which spoke volumes about how special and loved you really were.  Now it’s the little things, like pummeling your Facebook wall with a birthday onslaught of YouTube videos of your favorite person, in my case Amy Poehler, that truly makes your day special.  Or the fact that your husband worked hard so that your child would say, “Happy Birthday” first thing in the morning as they wake you up in bed.  That’s pretty special too.

I am spending a bit of my birthday making my own birthday cake.  Is that weird?  I’m excited about it!  Banana Cream Pie with Chocolate and Caramel.  Sounds like a dream, right?  I’ve been prepping the ingredients for a few days now – flaky tart dough, pastry cream, caramel…and I am hoping it’s one of the best things I’ve made thus far!   For those of you that think it’s unfortunate that I’m baking my own birthday dessert, it’s not something new to me.  Apparently when I was three I made my own birthday cake as well:

Little Helper, 1985 (Pretty sure those are Care Bears)

The cherry on top of an already wonderful birthday?!  I get to watch brand new episodes of my favorite shows (Parks & Recreation and The Office) tonight with some pretty amazing friends!  Hip hip hooray!  Hope you enjoy your day too.