C’était Mon Anniversaire

Last week was my birthday, and things didn’t quite turn out the way I expected. With my birthday falling on a Monday this year, it was slated to be a long day of travel for me. I usually leave home around 6am MT and don’t get to Florida until about 6pm ET (thank you, time change and layovers)… and that’s if my flight is on time, which it often isn’t. I’m not so much of a birthday person to where I would take off work on my birthday, but the idea of spending the day frustrated by delayed flights and then alone in a Courtyard Marriott just didn’t appeal.

So, I devised a plan to fly to New York on Monday morning instead. I arranged a few afternoon meetings there, and planned to stay in town that night to celebrate with old friends, and then take a 6am nonstop flight to get me to work on Tuesday morning. Unfortunately, you know what they say about the best laid plans! Rather than celebrating on Monday night, I had a quiet (but lovely) dinner with a close friend, and then stayed in town on Tuesday to attend a wake. Not quite the birthday I had expected, though I was infinitely grateful that my previous plans allowed me to be in town without having to make too many last-minute flight plans/changes.

Last Friday ended up being the real celebration, when I hosted a party in Colorado for some of my neighbors and friends. Since Friday was Bastille Day, I went with a French theme and cooked up French onion cheese bread, dijon chicken, sausage cassoulet, green bean salad, and a cherry clafoutis for dessert.


Thank you to my friend Cait for this adorable mini chalkboard, which I use for all my parties. And to be clear – that bottom right corner pic is the cherry clafoutis, not the dijon chicken I listed on the menu board.

The French onion cheese bread was a huge hit, and I’ll probably make it for future parties. Although caramelizing onions takes a long time, it’s a pretty hands-off and painless process with a yummy result. And with this recipe, you can caramelize the onions well in advance if you prefer, so that just prior to the party all you have to do is lay out your sliced bread, sprinkle with shredded gruyere, top with the onions, and bake for about 10 minutes. Really easy! (Especially when one of your best friends comes over early to catch up and does that part for you, ha.)


This girl is THE BEST.

My favorite dish of the night, though, was the cherry clafoutis. It’s a Julia Childs recipe, and I expected it to require a lot of skill/time, but it was incredibly quick and easy. Just dump milk, sugar, eggs, and a bit of flour into a blender to mix, then pour some of it into a dish for pre-baking, top with fruit, pour the rest of the batter in, and bake for an hour. Chopping the cherries took forever (though could have been avoided with frozen cherries instead of fresh, or a different kind of fruit), but the rest of the prep for this dish took less than five minutes, and it yielded a yummy and not-too-sweet result. I may be making this as a fancy and reasonably-healthy brunch recipe in the future… it was just so easy and delicious!

While much more low-key than my usual birthday celebrations, overall, I was so thrilled with the friends and neighbors who came to hang out on Friday. Both being surrounded by so many great friends and the way fate put me in New York on my actual birthday helped me realize I had something way more important than a birthday extravaganza. Life is good right now, and I’m incredibly grateful for that.

Part of why I’ve taken more than a week to blog about my birthday is that I feel guilty saying I’m happy. I know I’m incredibly lucky to be in such a place of content, and that’s been especially evident when so many of the people I love are going through tough times this month. Every day, it seems like someone new alerts me to terrible life-changing news, and it feels really crappy that I can’t do all that much to help :(

But I love my family and friends, my home and neighbors, and my job and coworkers, and I’m grateful that everything has come together to where I can relax and be content with my own life. Maybe that’s what growing older is all about – appreciating the quotidien rather than focusing on the trappings and hoopla? I’ll take it.

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