brought to you by my sister and niece

Maybe I’m obsessed with Disney princesses or maybe my almost-3-year-old niece insisted that they pose with the cake. I’ll let you decide.

One thing is certain: that was one awesome birthday week!


Jill, Julie, and Andrew came up to Austin the Sunday before my birthday. We had lunch, then made dessert! The recipe was super secret until it was time to make it: Sticky Toffee Cupcakes! YUM.


The cake part is basically a white cake with soaked dates folded in. You can’t see the toffee because it’s piped in the centers…sort of! For some reason, the toffee kept separating, which made it tricky to work with. We ended up squeezing more over the frosting, which is coconut cream cheese! On top are toasted coconut flakes. Coconut x2! Remember this.

sticky toffee birthday cupcakes!

Aren’t they cute? They’re loaded with tasty dates! The recipe is from Demolition Desserts by Elizabeth Falkner.

I’m lacking photographic proof, but Rachel and Josh came up for dinner with my roommates and me on Wednesday, then Jill and Tom took over with drinks later. Finally on Saturday, I went down to San Antonio and had lunch with my family.

What’s that? You want a food report? Okay, here you go!

birthday eats

Sunday! Egg salad tartine at Blue Dahlia Bistro, cauliflower gratin (and bourbon hot toddy) at Contigo

Wednesday! Mac ‘n cheese and veggie burger at 24 Diner, Funky Monkey donut at Gourdough’s (followed by drinks at The Highball and Easy Tiger)

Thursday! Cappuccino at Patika Coffee

Saturday! Fontina pizza at Dough Pizzeria (and we had some tasty flatbread)

Favorites? Everything was great, but the pizza/flatbread and cappuccino took the cake, followed by the gratin and tartine.


Speaking of cake…my sister made one for me! Specifically the one in the first photo, which is the lime yogurt cake with blackberry sauce from Smitten Kitchen. It was SO good!!

As if that wasn’t enough, my friends and family gave me some fantastic gifts. They seem to know me well: pretty much everything is colorful and food-related, even the schnazzy ukulele with the kiwi design!


(not pictured because Minda just gave it to me: Classic Sourdoughs by Ed Wood!)

I’m not sure if she knew it, but in giving me a ukulele, my sister has crossed something off my list!

No, I haven’t forgotten about the list…here are the completed and questionable 29 things to do before 30!

[1. Go skydiving again(ticket purchased!)]
So even though I haven’t done this yet, it certainly needs to WILL happen before my ticket expires in August. Thought about going on my birthday!

2. Make puff pastry!

[3. Go to a food blogger thing.]
I almost went to the Foodbuzz Blogger Festival, but didn’t. (turns out that my decision was dumb) I did technically go to a “food blogger thing” in October if you count this workshop.

4. Move into my own place for once.
Well, I moved to Austin…with roommates! Better that way…

7. Learn how to drive stick.
Jill gave me a couple lessons and while I have yet to go past third gear, she pointed out that it’s kind of hard to truly learn when you don’t own a standard. Good point.

9. Learn how to do a flip turn (and therefore get back into swimming).
This is the very first item I tackled! It’s too bad I don’t have a video, but then again, also feel like that’s probably a very good thing.

14. Take a photography class.

16. Try to like goat cheese, sushi, and coconut things.  Try each 10 times.
[ goat cheese: 10/10 | sushi: 0/10 | coconut: 10/10 ]

Ah, this one. So I didn’t do so well with the sushi because it’s expensive and I didn’t actually have a meal with anyone where the other person ordered sushi. I have tried it several times in my life, though…

Coconut is now something I like! This is partly why Jill chose for us to make cupcakes with coconut for my birthday. Hurrah!

Goat cheese is…still something I don’t like. Disappointed face.  Oh! But I don’t make the totally revolted face that I used to make when eating it. I’m not giving up yet!

17. Buy (and learn how to play) a ukulele!
So I didn’t actually buy one, but now I have one! Thank you, sister Jill!!! <3

20. Plan my next passport stamp.
Julie and Andrew are spending 9 months in New Zealand later on this year, and I’m totally hoping to visit! That’s about as plan-y as I get.

23. Create a baking recipe completely of my own.
When I chose this, I meant something that required…baking. However, now the most popular post on my blog is for the Butterbeer recipe that I made up this past summer while staying in a dorm with hardly any equipment. I’ll take it for now!

24. Learn how to make crepes.
Merci, Julie!

25. Find some more ways to fund my existence/these things.
While still lacking a proper job, I feel like I’ve become a general freelancer. In addition to the usual music gigs, I had a few short-term jobs that inevitably led to about 6 months of living out of a suitcase.

27. Make tamales.

So not everything or even half, but I’ll keep working on it!

There’s another list of things in my mind that I’ve been worried about not accomplishing and/or experiencing before that day I woke up as a newly-minted 30 year-old, but my friends and family totally distracted me by making it the best birthday I’ve had in recent memory. We even saw this happen (minus the band) on that day and so I wished upon either a meteor or flying space junk:

Personally, I hope it was the latter.

Here’s to the thirties! (gulp.) Let’s do this.