Dear Hannah,

Sounds like you were a queen on your birthday–just as it should be. I think since becoming a mother, my birthday takes a backseat to my daughter’s, and instead takes on a sort of Mother’s Day flavour, which is so nice. I’m going to request the same treatment you got for my next birthday–cake, tea out with friends or family, generally being treated all day. Yes please!

Oh, and GET ME THAT STICKY DATE CAKE RECIPE. I discovered the wonders of baking with dates a few years ago, but since little e was born I haven’t made much with them. I’m imagining (in my mind’s stomach) that it tasted like sticky toffee pudding–caramelly and rich and teeth-achingly sweet in the best way. Am I right? I get the feeling whipped cream would be good here. It’s good anywhere, but here, yes. Please send details!

Do you know, I’ve been very good about desserts lately.  I recall you went through something similar after B1 was born—not being able to get those last few baby-blamed pounds off the hips? Although I recall you looked amazing in a pretty short time, lady. Well, I went back to work three weeks ago and man, was that a wakeup call. I guess it’s because most of the time I’ve worked there I’ve been a happy size (including last summer when I was hugely pregnant, but that’s missing the point I’m trying to make), so now I feel strange not being able to fit into the clothes I associate with working there. I want to fit into my beautiful grey dress pants, damn it! Therefore I’ve been avoiding my favourite part of the meal (and, really, of life). Not as hard when there’s fresh, juicy fruit around, to be sure, but at least once a day I find my dessert-addict voice whispering that one of these cookies wouldn’t do any harm. They’re so delicious and I haven’t made them in so long…But so far I have resisted. The date cake could be my undoing, but send the recipe anyway. I’ll save it for another time. I swear.

On to much more exciting things: Your latest fabulous success with The Colour of Tea! I was so excited to hear that the book’s been chosen to be Walmart Canada’s Read of the Month in December! I’m not a Walmart frequenter, but I will haunt the aisles to see your book there. An excellent choice on their part, of course, because 1) it makes such a pretty Christmas gift and 2) it’s a fantastic holiday read. Huzzah!

Okay, so the title of this post would lead you to believe there’s a perfect evening hanging around somewhere, right? Well, that would be last night. DH emailed me just as I was finishing work and ready to come home to ask if I wanted to hike up our local mountain (we make it a prerequisite to live in cities near hikeable-after-work mountains) before dinner, and that he’d already shopped for said dinner, and it would include a lot of the fennel we had just harvested for the garden. Perfect already, right? So off we went with little e in tow, and here is the view from the lookout:

DH enjoying the evening light and little e snoozing on his back.

After a leisurely descent we made it home in time for me to give little e a bath, some dinner and then put her to bed, while DH got on with dinner—sole en papillote with fennel and tomatoes and an orange and fennel salad. I don’t know how, but that salad was more refreshing and thirst quenching than any glass of water.

Then, of course we had to find something for dessert. Don’t worry—nothing to derail my grey dress pants goal. I’ve been making a lot of ice cream, you see. If you recall, last year I told you about Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams. Well, I bought the cookbook and it’s now my ice cream bible. We have some vanilla in the freezer at the moment and some freshly cut pineapple in the fridge, so off we went into the garden with our bowls to sit on the grass and enjoy the tiny crunch of vanilla seeds between our teeth. Oh, and since we were sitting beside the raspberry patch, it was only natural to pick a handful to go with the last of the ice cream once the pineapple had been eaten off the top.

It’s been so long since we’ve had an evening like this. Life is far too busy. Too stressful. The days too short. I love how food and a good hike in the woods makes me slow down and just appreciate. Living with the senses does that. But we forget.

Birth stories, you asked about. Well, my mother has a few, but none of them involve daffodils. One is about how, once she was pushing, the doctor asked if she’d get on with it because he needed to get his car out of the shop (not a euphemism). I, thankfully, had a much more positive experience than she did, and I have written the whole thing out, which I hope little e will want to read when she’s old enough. I love how the legacy of her birth is not only a transformative thing for me, but that it could also be for her, and that it could teach her about trusting herself and her body and being positive in challenging situations. Do you have little stories for B1 and B2?

I’ve been meaning to give you a garden update, but that will have to wait until next time. This is already an unforgivably scattered letter. But there will be photos of green things. And maybe a baby among the flowers…



PS- I think half-birthdays are a grand idea. Let’s make it our mission celebrate them–after all, it’s another reason to eat cake. You can find your half birthday here. And the website gives you other key details, like how many days until your next (actual) birthday, in case you want to do a count down, preschooler-style.