My birthday was last Monday, but when you're birthday is on a Monday, you've just gotta seize the moment and make a whole weekend out of it! I turned 41, which isn't really a big, exciting milestone you've been anticipating all your life. So, celebrations were peaceful and low-key... mostly involving lots of friend time and lots of carbohydrates. Ah, a perfect combo.
The whole affair started off with a Saturday morning Pancake Breakfast with my sweet mom and dad, who I love so much. My dad was a little disappointed, because he wanted waffles - but I invoked Birthday Privilege and made pancakes. Not just plain ol' pancakes either - but the Carrot Cake Pancakes from Isa Does It. I've had my eye on that recipe since I first got the cookbook, and I LOVED THEM. They were chock full of carrots, and of course I added the optional pecans, which was not a mistake. I made a double batch, and between the four of us, there were just a couple left over. Mmmmmmm. I cannot wait to make these again!
To go along with the pancakes, I also got lots of really yummy fruit at the farmers' market that morning: two kinds of cherries, and super fresh strawberries. Plus! I found the new Apple Maple Breakfast Links by Field Roast at the Whole Foods here in town, and so we had those too. They were super good and I will most definitely be buying them again! I wanted some sort of savory / protein to go with the pancakes, and these were a great match. I'm not sure if I could really pick the apple & maple flavors out, but they did taste like yummy little breakfast sausages, so I was very happy.
Here's my plate (though I did have seconds!) - complete with roasted asparagus!
I can't really tell you how happy this breakfast made me. Sometimes it feels like my Instagram and Facebook feeds are full of lucky vegans posting pictures of all their amazing weekend brunches they are enjoying, and I get pretty envious. I'm really not very satisfied with the vegan breakfast options here in Santa Cruz, and so I've been slowly building pent-up longing for a good, proper, balanced, fancy breakfast. This special morning with sweeties and savories and veggies and fruities and hot coffee and family and fun was JUST PERFECT.
Yummers is begging for asparagus. His favorite.
He can be quite bossy and persistent about it.
On my actual birthday, two awesome friends came over for dinner - it was nice to keep the whole thing quiet and low-key. They brought a really beautiful salad (with strawberry-balsamic dressing!), and I made Grilled Herb Tofu Sandwiches with caramelized onions and sundried-tomato pesto. Apparently I was too busy eating to take pictures of all that vegetable goodness - but I did snap a picture of the dessert I made. After much deliberation, I decided to make the Double Chocolate Strawberry Pie from Vegan Diner for my bday dessert and it was great! I love the simplicity and ease of this recipe, and I love the combo of the rich chocolate + raspberry liquer with the super bright freshness of the berries.
It's no surprise to me that I mostly celebrated my birthday with special breakfast treats. Most days I try to keep my breakfast simple and nutritious, but I do really love fancy breakfast. I always wake up hungry, and ready to go! So, another treat I made myself for my birthday weekend was a batch of the Baked Apple Oatmeal from Oh She Glows. Except that it's not really apple & pear season - so I used peaches instead. SO GOOD. The recipe calls for lots of nice warming spices like ginger and nutmeg and cinnamon, which all go just as well with peaches as with apples.
I just made a half batch, which gave me about 4 modest breakfasts. I portioned them into little pyrexes, and then I had special breakfast for a few days in a row. What a treat! This picture was taken when the oatmeal was fresh out of the oven, still steaming away. This was my first time making baked oatmeal, and I really loved this recipe. Next I have my eyes set on her Baked Carrot Cake Oatmeal recipe. Mmmm.
Also, on the weekend I got together with some of my friends from high school (and earlier!) and their cute kiddos. We had a really sweet little lunch picnic in the park overlooking the harbor... with time to catch up, kids playing, and beautiful sunshine. My friend Carey surprised us by bringing really yummy mini-cupcakes from a local bakery, and she even brought me my own little special box of FOUR mini vegan cupcakes in different flavors. Wow! And then they all sung Happy Birthday to me, which I wasn't expecting! I dug right into the Mocha Cupcake... and saved the others for later. They were really good, and I loved the modest mini size. She also brought along shiny noise maker tooters, which the kiddos enjoyed with great festivity and relish!
On my actual birthday, I taught yoga in the morning and then rushed off to my weekly yoga group practice. I joined this group about a year ago, and it has really enhanced my life and my practice. Because I teach on Monday mornings, I am always a little late to join our practice. When I finally got there, they had put flowers and a card and a special chocolate bar down right where my yoga mat would go!! I was so super touched. And then, after a really great practice together, I came out of savasana to find a chocolate cake with 41 chocolate chips on it! We had a very sweet little moment together, and then we went out in the sunshine for some strawberries and cake. It really meant so much to me. I feel lucky to have friends who I have known for so many years and also new friends who I am still getting to know!
All in all, it was a very nice birthday weekend... lots of good food, quality time with the people I love, good yoga time, lots of special surprise treats from my friends, and a generally mellow vibe.
Bonus Fur Pics:
A rare moment of Footie and Yummers near one another, but not engaged in active paw-to-paw combat. They don't love each other, but we love them both.