13 December 2007

am now officially

37 (as of a couple of days ago, that is). I wish I could say that it was a magic-filled day but it was sort of... not. more like a series of small fiascos, many of which I am already laughing about. not so funny as the day was unfolding, but then I have always had such unrealistic expectations when it comes to birthdays.

unpleasantness to avoid next year (if at all possible):

1. multiple temper tantrums thrown by ezra (or anyone, for that matter).

2. coffee houses where wireless internet cannot be counted on to work properly.

3. entire mornings spent driving all over the place in the car.

4. thrifting while angry. one should never thrift while angry. because I'll tell you, no one wins. you won't find one single thing worth buying and then you will have spent this huge chunk of time there and you will feel like you've got to come away with something to show for it and when you can't find anything, not even ONE THING, the shop (and its entire contents) will begin to look monumentally depressing. you will feel overwhelmed by the amount of crap in the world and how driven we are as a culture to consume. this will make you feel sad. and then you will begin to feel sluggish. this is so not how you want to feel while thrifting. most importantly, not how you want to feel on your birthday.

5. ruined batches of frosting. that's right, I screwed up the frosting for the red velvet cake I bake each year. and I never do that, never never never. my cake is a little bit of perfection each year, no lie. but I was talking on the phone and I wasn't paying full attention and added two sticks of butter to the bowl instead of one and all the time I was mixing it, I was thinking, why does this taste so salty? and then when I finished icing the cake, I wondered why there was so much frosting left. which is when it occurred to me that maybe I'd messed it up somewhere along the way. which is exactly what happened. but the frosting was already on the cake and we were set to leave for dinner in a matter of minutes. what could I do? making the frosting is sort of a big ordeal that requires carefully cooking milk and flour together at just the right temperature and allowing just the right amount of time for it to cool before adding it to the creamed butter/sugar/vanilla mixture. later on that evening as we were eating the cake, ava told me that the frosting 'sort of kind of made her feel achy inside'. well, okay then. enough to make me want to scrape that icing right off the cake and start all over again. because I only make this stinking cake once a year and I sure don't want it to make anyone feel all 'achy inside'.

6. mail that contains bad news.

7. children that cry all the way through the singing of the happy birthday song, the blowing out of the candles, and the eating of the cake. actually, ezra started in with the crying and whining shortly after dinner when he realized it was not, in fact, his birthday and that there would be no robot cake. even though we'd been telling him this all day long. he cried big fat sloppy tears and begged us to please bring out the robot cake and let me tell you, it is a difficult thing to blow out the candles and make any sort of wish when your child is crying like that. it was then that I decided to call it a night, to put the day out of its misery. I said goodnight and got into bed and that was that. asleep by ten o'clock. which is really a big deal for me since I am rarely in bed before midnight. I don't even remember putting pajamas on. I just wanted the day to be over.

well, okay. I know, nothing really along the lines of major disaster. just a string of unpleasantness that made for a less than desirable birthday. that said, I do realize how fortunate I am, I do. I am somewhere beyond thankful for the life that I have and would not trade it for anything, ever. this must be said, lest I be mistaken for someone who is not in love with her life. and even though the day did not play out as I'd imagined, there were many moments of shinyhappy. now that I think about it, now that I've really had time to think about it-- I think maybe the good outweighs the bad. and I'm feeling a little silly about how much I've yammered on about the bad.

pleasantness to be duplicated (in some way, shape or form) for next year:

1. donuts with chocolate icing and sprinkles for breakfast.

2. coffee houses that play james brown in the morning.

3. handmade cards from the kids.

4. the buying of presents for yourself (in this case, vintage ribbon that will be sewn onto a camera strap) with money sent to you by your mom and dad (thank you). and the dreaming of what books you might buy with that certain gift card (thank you, you know who you are).

5. phone calls from family and friends. and brothers who call while they're walking on the street so that you can hear the sound of city in the background, the sound of cars and horns and sirens, the sounds of new york. brothers who attempt to cheer you up with free-style raps that last for two whole blocks of walking. which is the kind of thing that makes you want to smother your cel phone with gratitude.

6. handmade gifts from friends.

7. hand-drawn certificates from your better half.

8. dinner with the mister at places like lovely hula hands. tiny candlelit tables by windows that overlook the street below, lemony sugary drinks like the lovely hula hoop, foccacia bread that melts in your mouth, polenta to die for and uninterrupted conversation. and friends that babysit your kids. even when it's a school night and they have two kids of their own to take care of (amy and craig, thank you so much).

9. paperwhites that wait until your birthday to bloom. each day I've been watching, eagerly anticipating the first bloom and then the little guy went and opened up on my birthday.

10. red velvet cake, even when it's ruined.

okay, so yes. the good far outweighed the bad, I can see that now. thank you to all who have gone to any trouble to make my birthday a little bit magic and who put up with my whining. you know that I love you for it.

oh yes, and the list. the old list has been reviewed and the new list is coming. I am beginning to warm up to 37, I really am.


  1. I love red velvet cake. Would you mind sharing your recipe? It sounds fabulous.

    For as long as I can remember, I have always had a red velvet cake from this particular bakery in my hometown for my birthday. No other bakery would do. But earlier this year I moved overseas -- so now I'm going to make my own cake every year. I would love a tried and true recipe.

    By the way, I love the homemade cards from your kids. And the necklace is beautiful.

  2. Happy Birthday Sweetness. I always love popping into your blog for that something special. I can't help but giggle and smile at the stories you share. Please don't stop being who you are.

  3. happy birthday dahling! i loved this honest post balancing the good vs bad (real) day. of course you're a sag like me so i wish you a double triple happy birthday month happiness with sugar on top!!!

  4. i have to say i was beginning to wonder if i was normal or at least behaving as a normal December child. YOU and of course many other December babies that i've come to learn to know have made me more secure in myself which i've always wondered do i love too much? the answer is unequivocally NO and that i do the things i do because i love so much.

    thank you for being here on this planet for 37 years and for many more to come! strange way of putting things but hey, that's life. what keeps me a young 34 year old is dating my 24 year old boyfriend who I LOVE more than life itself. be good.

  5. How does the song go? "You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and then you have..." Happy happy birthday! I'll bet that red velvet cake was delicious anyway.

  6. life sure knows how to throw some curveballs...sorry it happened on your special day. cake and paperwhites and handmade cards and gift certificates all sound so wonderful though. love the doughnut photo so much and i'm truly looking forward to your new list. you're an inspiration sweet andrea! xx

  7. happy:happy:happy:happy:birthday!!!! i love birthdays with seven's in them. i love this post....seeing the thoughts process through one perspective to the next. (&yes thrifting while angry is depressing). hope 37 brings you many happy days.

  8. Happy Birthday!!!
    Thanks for working it all out.
    Thanks for letting us listen in.
    I'm delighted you found the joy and gratitude woven throughout it all!
    Keep up the good and hard and wonderful work!
    - Lee

  9. well, i'm glad you did have good things too! i esp. loved the phone call with your brother.. so sweet! happy birthday!

  10. I enjoyed reading this post. It makes me feel so normal! Birthdays as a grown up can be so unpredictable; can't they!

    It sounds like you have a lovely family and some great friends. Happy Birthday!

  11. happy birthday - so refreshingly honest. Aren't birthdays always a little like that? Gah, the expectation...I never realized until this moment that I wish I had a freestyle phone rapping brother.

  12. Happy Birthday Andrea! Sorry you kinda tripped throught the whole thing. It's good to have a great family to pepper it with funny things. And I must agree, thrifting while angry is very discouraging. BTW, saw the Starbucks commercial last night while I was making a tutu for my niece and I looked up from the tulle and said, "Oh, hey, it's[LAIKA's] comercial!" (the actual phrase I said was much longer to explain to Joel what LAIKA actually is). Ok, comment too long. Happy 37th!

  13. I've already commented on your birthday goodness at Flickr...so I'll just say that the restaurant looks lovely...(and that the gentrification of N. Mississippi, J's childhood neighborhood, never ceases to amaze me.) :) Wishing you a fabulously wonderful 37th year...may Stumptown unfold for you all of her glory along the way... xoxo

  14. Happy day! - but will you post the updated list? Because I, for one, am now quite curious.

  15. happy belated dear friend.

    now that you are closer perhaps i am closer to tasting that red velvet cake?

    i hope none of those bad thing happen ever again [ok unrealistic, but...]

  16. there are those stamps again! where can i find them????

  17. i've never commented before.. i first read you when keri smith linked to one of your posts. i think you sound like the most beautiful person! and because you are real and are honest about things that aren't so cool as well as seeing lots of good stuff in the everyday. happy birthday from a tiny island off australia. xo

  18. oh, thank you everyone! thanks so much for all the kind words and lovely birthday wishes! much appreciated on my end. xoxo

    alisha, I had planned on posting the red velvet cake recipe this year but have just been so busy... not sure I'll get around to it but if you'd like, I'd be more than happy to email it to you. just click on my profile page to email me!

    katiek, no comment from you is too long. :) and yeah, isn't that starbucks spot nice? ward was thrilled that you noticed!

    maddog, the updated list is coming... hopefully this week.

    lisa, you and me and red velvet cake... so going to happen. just a matter of time.

    brandy, I keep meaning to email you about those stamps! actually, they're old wooden letterpress blocks that I have been collecting for years... took me a while before I had the entire alphabet and numbers 1-10! don't despair-- it may take you a while but you can find them. check ebay and look for them at antiques stores/malls and the fleammarket. hope that helps!

  19. happy birthday hula seventy mommy!!!

    wow! those bday cards + dad gift certificates are fabulous + your neck looks 17 in that handmade necklace :)


  20. Happy Belated Birthday! I just made red velvet cake yesterday and your frosting recipe sounds like the one I used. Is it from More from Magnolia?

    Oh, and thanks for posting about Be Kind, Rewind! Mos is my secret boyfriend!

  21. oh happy birthday! Here is to a happy and healthy 37!

  22. I never got a chance to say happy birthday! I hope you are well and that 37 is a great year for you! Can you believe we are adults!? I still feel like a kid.

  23. Strange, but may I ask the manufacturer of the great plate that the donut is sitting on? I'd love to add something similar to my collection! Thanks, sorensen.amelia@yahoo.com