November 23, 2011

I know most of you come here for the food.  I also know that I have been a little absent here and trust me when I tell you, it’s not for lack of trying.  I try to prioritize my blog and make sure that I post but for the past month or so, that has been difficult.  I should be a little more present going forward and I have lots of recipes waiting in the wings but for now, I just need to write.  (I posted a great soup earlier today if you just need a food fix.)

My blog captures the dishes I make and the stories I have that are associated with food.  It has also become my journal, since I no longer write longhand in one anymore.  This post is the type of thing I would write in my journal.

Today is Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving.  In addition to being the day before Thanksgiving, this day has become The Day We Pick Up Graham’s Birthday Cake.  Graham’s birthday is November 28th and we usually have a party for him sometime over the weekend.  This is a busy time of year in our family – my mom, Graham, one of his best friends, my best friend, and my best friend’s son all have birthdays within three days of each other.  Graham is a very go-with-the-flow kind of guy so he doesn’t care when we celebrate, but he always has very specific ideas about his birthday cake and this year it was Spiderman.

I bake.  I bake cakes.  I bake cakes that taste good and sometimes look pretty.  But I don’t do Spiderman cakes or fire truck cakes or construction vehicle cakes.  Those I leave to the professionals so for years now, we have been getting our birthday cakes at a sweet little old-fashioned bakery in a neighborhood right next to a lake.  This bakery sells parker house rolls and cookies with sprinkles on them and the boys think it is just magical.  They have old dusty fake example cakes set up around the shop and my boys oooh and aaah over them and fantasize about what they want to get next year.  The day before Thanksgiving, the bakery is crammed full of special orders.  Pies and rolls and cakes and breads are all stacked on racks with names in permanent marker.  Each one of those bundles has to be picked up today because the bakery closes for the weekend at 5pm tonight.  Which is why the Wednesday before Thanksgiving has become The Day We Pick Up Graham’s Birthday Cake.

Like most Wednesdays before Thanksgiving, it is pouring today.  We got out of our car, all of us in rain jackets and rubber boots, and held hands as we crossed the street to the bakery.  As we did so, I was hit with a giant wallop of nostalgia.  I remembered picking up Graham’s cake the year he was turning four, the fire truck cake you see above.  Spencer was just under two and had just started walking (he was a late walker).  I was frantic.  It was raining.  I had a million things to do.  It was close to naptime.  How was I going to get the cake to the car and carry Spencer at the same time?  And keep track of Graham?  And once we got home, how was I going to cook all the things on my to-do list while my boys napped?  If you ever see a mother with two young children who looks totally sweaty and harried – that was me that day.  As I was getting ready to leave the bakery, a man held the door open for me, took one look at me, and then offered to carry the cake to the car.  Bless that kind man.  I carried Spencer and held Graham’s hand and the nice man carried the cake.

Today we walked in, waited our turn in line, and then got our cake.  (There were some squeals of delight – it is an awesome cake.)  I decided that the boys could wait for me in the bakery while I brought the cake to the car because we were having a mommy lunch date afterward at one of their favorite Mexican food places right next door.  I asked that they sit at the little table crowded into a corner, and out the door I went.  Not harried.  Not sweaty.  Still overwhelmed with all that I have to cook today and tomorrow but taking comfort in the fact that the boys would probably take a little nap (yes – still!) and even if they didn’t, that they will play together more or less nicely while I sauté and bake away in my cozy kitchen.

We had our lunch date where there were no high chairs or diaper changes, just two wiggly boys and chips and bean and cheese burritos and flan for dessert.  Conversations.  Kisses and snuggles.  Reprimands of course.  I looked at the two of them across the table as they colored in their kids menus, both of them with their long eyelashes and their darkening hair, and could hardly breathe for the thankfulness of my life.  My two healthy and kind children, my husband who is so present in their lives and brings parts to them that I don’t posses, the family and dear dear friends that I will cook for tomorrow, and the fact that we get to go to an old-fashioned bakery every Wednesday before Thanksgiving to pick up a special birthday cake.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.


  1. I love your blog.
    Not just for the amazing food you offer but also for these stories.
    It’s such a beautiful tradition! I hope you’ll show us Graham’s cake.

    Happy Thanksgiving Dana!

    Comment by Annika — November 24, 2011 @ 6:07 am

  2. I’ll be honest, Dana, I love your food but I also love your posts like this. I feel kind of like I know the boys after all this time and it’s been so great watching them grow.

    Happy Thanksgiving and in case we don’t hear from you before then, give Graham a happy birthday hug for me.

    Comment by Joanne — November 24, 2011 @ 11:39 am

  3. Lovely post, Dana. Happy Thanksgiving to you and the whole family. We’ll be thinking of you from Berlin (where we’re celebrating with the Kaitanos).

    Comment by Becky — November 24, 2011 @ 1:34 pm

  4. Dana,
    It’s when we take that moment to stop and be present we really do see what we are thankful for in our lives. You have a beautful family. Hope you have a peacful day to relax, despite all the cooking!
    Take care,
    Deborah :)

    Comment by Deborah — November 24, 2011 @ 3:44 pm

  5. Happy Thanksgiving, Dana and family! I’m so thankful to have you in my life…you’re the best friend a girl could ask for!

    Comment by Deb — November 24, 2011 @ 4:43 pm

  6. Happy Birthday to Graham! Thanks for the sweet post. I too, am feeling quite thankful for my family this Thanksgiving. Hope you have a wonderful day:)

    Comment by Mara — November 24, 2011 @ 9:45 pm

  7. oh dana i do love reading your posts.
    i don’t have much family but have always longed for one.
    i do have my hubby though so that makes up for it.
    the best part? i love that you have mommy dates with the boys–so sweet.

    Comment by vanillasugarblog — November 24, 2011 @ 10:23 pm

  8. I am sure this is one very special Thanksgiving for you, and for your beloved and the boys.

    This was another touching post of yours, that made me all soft inside, and happy to have stumbled on your blog a couple of years ago

    Happy Thanksgiving….

    Comment by SallyBR — November 24, 2011 @ 10:36 pm

  9. Dana – an enjoyable post – brought tears to my eyes.
    Glad you are able to slow down some. Happy Thanksgiving!

    Comment by Kel — November 25, 2011 @ 12:35 am

  10. I almost never leave comments but I just had to tell you that
    you have a way with words. I just loved the little story. Write lots more stories, we can eat later!

    Comment by Judy — November 25, 2011 @ 12:36 am

  11. I love equally reading your writing posts and your recipes posts. Beautiful memories that you are leaving for your kids. They will this over and over again. I wished my mom had done that. She did not write anything and did not keep any souvenirs of when we were young.

    Comment by Helene — November 25, 2011 @ 9:26 pm

  12. I really enjoyed this post. I also live in Seattle, and just found your blog recently. Looking forward to more of your recipes and stories about life.

    Comment by Elaine — November 25, 2011 @ 10:28 pm

  13. I usually only comment on the food, but I just wanted to let you know that I enjoy when you share stories of your boys and everyday life. Hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving!

    Comment by melinda ke — November 25, 2011 @ 10:31 pm

  14. Dana- I love love love reading these types of posts. Your writing is so beautiful and you have such a great perspective on life. It’s contagious! I love the tradition of picking up Graham’s cake and I can practically picture that bakery from your description. I love spots like that. Hope you guys had a wonderful Thanksgiving and birthday celebration!

    Comment by Clara — November 26, 2011 @ 5:01 pm

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