A house is just a structure. A home is that structure filled with people, with aromas of home-cooked food, and for me, with flowers. This move hasn’t been easy but we’re finally done. Not unpacked, but moved out and surrounded by endless boxes. Unpacking can, for me, be daunting and thankless especially when spring is on our doorstep and there is so much else one could do with their weekend. And so in an effort to make our house a home and cheer up a dreary task, I picked out a fresh arrangement at a local florist. The beautiful blooms instantly made the day so much brighter.
I had every intention of baking these cookies but ran out of cocoa powder. I didn’t miss a beat and instead made a beautiful sockerkaka med applen (Swedish apple cake). There are few things that are so aromatic as apples baking and vanilla-laced cake.
Last, but not least, the girls enjoyed the day with their Baba and Deda as we worked to pack, unpack, and generally finish our move. On the occasion of their births, they each got little personalized backpacks and I can’t believe they are both finally big enough to use them.
Sophia turned four. Four is a big deal! Almost like a recipe — a party, a good party requires a few key ingredients. Good food. Check. It also requires good cakes, several cakes. Check. Some drinks — juices for the kids and beer/wine for the adults. Check, check. Last, but absolutely critical, a good party requires friends and family.
We started planning Sophia’s party a few months ago because we like to take our time working out the menu, guests, and the theme. She was set on a Lego theme and no amount of persuasion helped convince her to change her theme. Evan and I had our hearts on a Totoro theme. We’re hopeful she’ll want to have that as her theme next year and if not, there’ll always be one of Eliza’s parties. We invited our close family and a select few friends. We would have invited more but space was limited and we wanted to leave plenty of room for the kids to enjoy catching up. As it was, there were over thirty people and lots of cousins and friends.
We made all of the food ourselves, save for a salad, a side and a kugel. There was the sausage and peppers, chicken baked in an asian broth dressed with scallions and sesame seeds, rice, a corn and edamame succotash, grilled cheese two ways, an apricot kugel, a fiesta and a quinoa salads, and stewed eggplant. I baked two cakes–a lemon layer cake and a chocolate cake. The lemon cake was a rich pound cake base with a home-made lemon curd and iced with a lemon-cream cheese frosting. The chocolate cake was death by chocolate a triple layer chocolate cake filled and iced with chocolate ganache. Lastly, and because we enjoy cooking together, Sophia and I made chocolate balls which were a rich chocolate cake mixed with ethereally light vanilla buttercream frosting and dipped in bittersweet chocolate. They were such fun to make and a huge hit at the party.
The adults socialized, the kids played, we sang happy birthday, blew out candles, ate cake, and opened presents. Sophia was thrilled that her friends and family made the time to join us in celebrating her birthday. She loved her presents. This birthday was for Sophia but it was a family party where we came together with people we love and spent time catching up.
The picture is a bit fuzzy… it is the best one I have until my sister and brother-in-law look through their pictures. They hosted the party opening their house to our guests and helped enormously. Their selfless generosity is the very definition of family. This is what families, real, close-knit families do–make time, open their home, their hearts, and enjoy the pitter patter and laughter of tiny guests. I couldn’t be happier that Sophia and Eliza are learning by example. And thank you Anna, David and Alex for your open home and open hearts. Truly.
The good kind of tired. The kind when your ankles and knees ring from running after little ones. The very same kind that overfills your heart after spending an afternoon with family and friends. We hosted Eliza’s first birthday. Nothing major, just some sandwiches, pizza, a vegetable tray, fruit and cake (of course).
We were pleased with the cake I designed inspired by my mother-in-law’s suggestion of something with ducks. We wanted something playful and fun, without being too girly yet dainty enough. The owner of Sweet Elizabeth’s Cakes helped put together a cohesive design that included ducks, a pond, a park bench, balloons, a carousel, and a dog (Eliza’s favorite!). The pinks and purples in the balloons were a nod to the fact that the cake was for a little girl.
And so our little Eliza is finally ONE. For whatever reason, this feels like a huge milestone for me. It is as if I’ve been waiting with bated breath for her to get a little older. Perhaps this is true and I have been restless waiting for her first smile, first laugh, and first tentative steps. Really, I’ve waiting for her to become a little girl, and with that, a little friend for Sophia.
And of course, big sister Sophia was on hand to help get the party started!
Last, but not least, a special thank you to my brother-in-law for capturing the memories.