Birthdays are so much fun!

11 Apr

I’m going to let you guys in on a little secret- as we get older, birthdays take on a slew of new meanings. Think about. When you’re a kid, you spend your life ‘feeling’ older than you are. Sure, you might be 12, but you totally feel like you’d be fine driving a car, dating, setting your own bedtime…But when you’re older, this weird thing happens where you can’t believe how old you are, how quickly time is passing. And how much younger you feel than your actual number suggests! I turned 35 yesterday and I still can’t wrap my brain around that. So John and I started thinking back- trying to figure out the magic year(s) where one switches from feeling older than the number to feeling way younger. Thoughts? Our scientific approach involved working our way backwards…The day they let us leave the hospital and take a perfect 6-lb. baby Neve with us- sans instruction manual!- nope, we felt like babies ourselves. The day we got married- nope, felt like playing house. The days we started working ‘real’ jobs- still nothing, still amazed anyone would pay us that kind of money! Ha! So we zeroed in on about 21ish as the timeframe that felt truest to our numbers and our brains lining up. What’s your number?

So in a nutshell, what am I getting at? Age ain’t nothin’ but a number, baby 🙂 And I rang in 35 in lovely style. Nothing fancy, nothing over the top. Low-key, laid back and with my tribe…Just how I like it ❤ Not gonna lie- yes, it felt different than years past just because my whole family wasn’t together to celebrate (we’re a family of traditions and sentimentality and I’m the kind of girl who counts on those things for sanity), but that just wasn’t an option for this year and I just rolled with it.


My birthday weekend actually kicked off last Thursday night with a fabulous Girls’ Night with two of my tribe mates, Abigail and Emma. We went for Mexican (er, the closest to it we can find in this city!) and finished with delicious healthy cookies that Abigail made for the occasion.

John and Neve were the SWEETEST all weekend long- I got a Thai massage to start my Saturday morning, I had fresh cut tulips waiting for me when I got home (in not just one, but in three different vases throughout my house!), I had cards and dinner at my favorite restaurant.


All of the Pothos vines you see on the ceiling beams are real. And they come from just 3 plants. Yeah. Wow.


And getting back to the healthy cookies…John offered to make me any cake that I wanted. He knows that cake is my world and that I’ve rarely met a cake that I don’t love. But since we’ve changed up our eating style for 2016 (that’s another post in itself and don’t worry, it’s coming in a post all its own!), I knew a traditional cake wouldn’t be the best choice. Long story short, we haven’t had sugar- of any kind (white, brown, syrup, honey…)- or gluten, since January 14. Crazy, I know! But just think how our bodies would’ve freaked out with a cake and icing sugar bomb! So I found us a healthy substitute and we made it together. (One of my FAVORITE things to do is cook together <3)


They look delicious, don’t they? Yellow cake with chocolate icing and sprinkles. One of my absolute favorite combinations! Now let me show you how it all came together…


Yep, those were the ingredients! And yes, that’s a can of white beans and an avocado in the mix! The beans are the bulk of the cake as there’s no flour. The avocado is the bulk of the icing. I should preface this by saying that I love baking with beans! Two of my favorites are a garbanzo bean cookie cake and black bean zucchini brownies. Don’t knock ’em til you try ’em! 🙂


So…Unfortunately, that bite you see was about the extent of our bites for the cupcakes. Abysmal failure. Whomp whomp. Not a single one of us finished our cupcake. On the plus side, the cake part was actually pretty decent. The whole house smelled like yellow cake when they came out of the oven and their texture was perfectly moist and fluffy. With the right icing, we’d totally try them again. But the icing. Oh the icing. Blech. Have you ever tried chocolate-flavored avocado sweetened with maple syrup? Don’t. Oh well, that’s the only way new delicious creations can be discovered, right?! At least my wish will come true since I blew out all my candles 😉

Sunday, my actual birthday, was my PERFECT day. We slept in, we fixed a nice breakfast, I rode 23 miles on my bike, spent the rest of the day in our PJs and only put on real clothes long enough to meet the gang for dinner at one of our favorite German restaurants a couple blocks away. I FaceTimed with my parents while I opened gifts and had a nice long chat with my Grandma. That was soul food right there. And I got texts and emails with well wishes all day long, and that’s in addition to the pilfering in of cards and packages over the past week. I am loved and I am one lucky girl <3.


Lazy Sunday in our Jammies ❤

John couldn’t stand the fact that I didn’t get an edible cake for my birthday (ie. none of us got cake!) and insisted that we try again. So we went with a vegan strawberry cheesecake. For anyone living under a rock, vegan means no animal products of any kind- no dairy, no eggs, etc. Anytime we’ve done vegan in the past, we’ve always had success making our own ‘cheese’ out of cashews, so that was our launch point. A cheesecake out of nothing but nuts and fruit? Yes, please!


So what was the verdict?  Drumroll, please…It. Was. Delicious! I kid you not- it was creamy and smooth and tart and naturally sweet. And oh so satisfying. We all were licking the crumbs off our plates!


Remember how I said we capped off the weekend with a group dinner at one of our favorite spots? Well, what we didn’t know when we planned ahead was that thousands of our closest friends would be there to join in the celebrations! Yeah. A HUGE protest/riot was taking place literally around the restaurant! It sits in between two of the main squares in the city. The Turks took over one square and the Kurds the other. Hundreds of police men and women- on foot, on horseback, on motorcycles and in helicopters!- and plenty of military green berets were there to keep things in check. Thank God, too, because as we ate our meal, we watched as folks got carted off in handcuffs, as they threw rocks, as the cops launched their pepper spray…It was CRAY-ZAY. At least it’ll make for a memorable story? Regardless, we had a lovely, delicious meal with plenty of laughs and stories. Love our tribe.


Another dinner, another artist showcase 🙂



You can see both flags in this one shot…

I’ve tried multiple times to research what exactly the two groups are fighting over, but I never end up with a clear picture. Here’s what I know: The Kurds are a far left group of people who live primarily in southeastern Turkey and make up 15-25% of the country’s population. Turks consider Kurds to be ‘mountain Turks who have lost their language.’ They view them as their primary enemy, even above Isis, who the Kurds are actively fighting. For a very long time, the Kurds have wanted more power and to separate from Turkey into their own country, Kurdistan. Throughout the years, they have been both closer to and further from this goal, which translates into levels of peace and upheaval. This separation would be very problematic for Turkey from both a government and a territorial standpoint. So they fight them on it. Despite cease fires throughout the years, both sides have lost thousands of people as a result of the violence, which happens to be back in full swing since 2013. With regards to Stuttgart, there is a huge Turkish/Kurdish population here with strong ties to their home. Their protests/riots are in support- and mostly symbolic- of what is happening in their country.


Sooooo didn’t intend to end my awesome birthday weekend post on that note! Ha! But it is what it is, right? If nothing else, witnessing situations like these give us a chance to learn and to broaden our perspectives. They also give us a chance to talk about them firsthand with Neve. And yes, we are always very aware of our surroundings and we take extra care to stay safe, even when presented with impromptu less-than-ideal circumstances.

Thank you again to everyone who reached out in some shape or form to help me celebrate this weekend. And even if you didn’t realize it was my birthday (I know it’s tough with me not being on Facebook at the moment, so there’s no reminder popping up!), just being here and reading my ramblings and following along on our adventures is such a gift and a blessing to me. THANK YOU. Now I’m off to get some rest before John’s brother, sister-in-law and our niece arrive here tomorrow morning! EEEK! So excited!

3 Responses to “Birthdays are so much fun!”

  1. Kathi Williams April 12, 2016 at 4:37 AM #

    Happy late birthday! Love you!

  2. Robin April 12, 2016 at 3:17 AM #

    So glad you had a great birthday!! We enjoyed sharing in the present openings – our Neve loves a present – hers, yours, it doesn’t matter. Maybe next year we can all be together.

  3. Eleanor April 11, 2016 at 10:53 PM #

    Have a great time with the family coming tomorrow! Happy your birthday was great. Love you.

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