My niece turned seven earlier this month! We celebrated the way she wanted to, with our favorite dolls. For her and her peers, this meant having American Girls, Bitty Babies and well-loved stuffed animals at the dinner table. The rest of us had our own interpretations. At her birthday lunch, we were joined by delightful people (some who called their dates “dolls”) and puppets, where there was also no shortage of smiles and laughter. As I look through the photos of the weekend fun, I think about the wonderful people that have come into her life this past year, both big and small. We know better than to call this year a lucky seven, because it is already a super seven.
When my nephew was two, he (his mom and dad) gave me a picture frame that read: “Aunt: Like Mom Only Cooler.” Recently someone told me that I was a good aunt; it was probably the best compliment I could have received. You see, Aunts have been important characters in my life. They have been unconditional resources of hospitality, information, understanding, experience, perspective, inspiration and support.
My Great Aunt Rose celebrated her 90th birthday last month. There was cake, pie, ice cream, fried chicken and a barbershop quartet! She was in heels and sparkles and beamed all weekend long. The first snow of this season was on that mid November Sunday morning, the day she was born, 90 years later (she recalled that it snowed the morning she was born, too). I celebrated my 34th birthday the following week, on a Sunday morning, the same day that I was born.
As I reflect on my life to this point, the opportunity to be an aunt is one of my great privileges. I think about the aunts in my life and what they have meant to me. It is not that they are cooler than my mom, or necessarily blood relatives to my mom, but they are maternally special. I am proud to continue that legacy; I had (still have) good teachers. Of course my uncles are cool too, but that’s an entirely different matter.
Last weekend I was privileged to join a special group of kids to celebrate my nephew’s ninth birthday, Italian soccer style. My sister put together a delicious pasta bar and festive cupcakes to match the theme. The evening ended with backyard soccer and ice cream cones! I became an aunt the morning he was born, and my heart has been growing bigger every day since. I wish so many things for him, including a life that continues to be filled with love and laughter.
It happened again: lots of living and not much blogging. This summer has been adventurous and at times, delicious. I am grateful for the milestones we celebrated and the simple moments we savored. When I look at these photos I remember unexpected treats from this past season; wishing all of you those reminders of the good times. I sense a reflective autumn coming on.
Together with my sister and her kids, we hand-cranked a batch of vanilla ice cream with our grandma/great-grandma on the cement outside of her front yard. We were celebrating her 85th birthday… the same way we did when my sister and I were kids.
You know those cozy hexagonal structures of wax made by bees to store their precious goods, including honey? How perfect that this honey brittle recipe also takes on the appearance of its former storage home: the honeycomb! Martha Stewart’s recipe for Honeycomb Brittle has been close to the top of my “I want to make this recipe” mountain since I spied it a few years ago.
All that time I had no idea that I was just four ingredients away from a little kitchen science and my new favorite brittle recipe. The mixture explodes in the pot when baking soda is added at the last minute, which accounts for is delightful airiness. It’s also easy to break apart once it hardens; if you’d like a little more control over the shapes of the shards, just score the brittle with a knife beforehand.
Next time I will add walnuts or almonds to the honey candy, as it is a perfect mix for encasing extra goodies. In part of this batch I set up candles in the brittle and broke them apart to make edible candle holders for plopping atop a honey lemon cake later this week (I will be 32!). The honeycomb brittle was also a fun and sweet crunchy accompaniment to a mug of creamy Greek yogurt the other morning. There’s nothing wrong with pre-celebrating, is there?
Since it stores and travels well, I am taking bags of the light and golden candy to contribute to our family munchies this holiday. Warm (and sweet) Thanksgiving wishes to All.
I went to a sweet and rambunctious birthday celebration for my nephew this week. We had fun doing science experiments (elephant toothpaste, lava in a cup, homemade bouncy balls) and playing games (basketball, tag, water balloon pinata) with his old kindergarten classmates. Don’t you love the cake? My sister made a fudgy football field with icing turf; we almost forgot what green grass looks like during this drought! I think the birthday boy felt the love as he passed out pieces of the field to his friends in his newly stained birthday/gameday knees.