I have always been a fan of birthdays, and not just because of the cake and ice cream and presents. There is something magical about birthdays if you let the moment and the day take on a shape removed from the normal. In our house we take our birthdays very seriously, they are filled with surprise and laughter and time spent with each other.

Yesterday was no exception, I woke early on the morning of my 33rd birthday and was greeted with the infectious exuberance of my 4 year old, who couldn’t keep sleeping any longer. She declared; “Happy Birthday my mommy! I love you so much, you are so pretty…even when you’re dirty..”. Bleary eyed Jaime and I stumbled to the dining room where I unwrapped some presents including;

This beautiful coffee mug, which Iz chose because it pictured a family

Chocolate and caramels..I restrained myself and did not eat them for breakfast

What unfolded after that was truly unusual and wonderful. Jaime informed me later that in her birthday planning she realized not only could she not drive, she couldn’t carry anything. As we are in walking distance of town she instead organized and pre-planned a birthday “scavenger hunt”.

There were a series of envelopes, each with instructions and a picture inside. Our first stop was our favorite coffee shop, where I had a deep, delicious cup of Ethiopian Yirgacheffe and treated myself to;

Raspberry Almond Muffin

The next envelope revealed the best treat of all;

Nothing like starting off your morning with a massage! I have never had a massage in the morning but I could certainly start every day with one! While I relaxed Izzie and Jaime picked up some loot from the farmer’s market and we met back up again for the rest of the hunt. Our journey took us to our favorite local sports store where I received this;

It may not look like much, but it was the best present ever. The sensor fits in my running shoes and the other thing plugs into my iPod to track my runs! I went for a run later that morning and it really gave me some great information, I am running much faster and farther thank I thought! I ran over 8.5 miles yesterday with my best pace being about a 7.25 minute mile..and I burned 835 calories! Not too shabby!

The rest of my hunt took me to the kitchen store, where I received a gift certificate to run wild with. Finally, tickets to see David Sedaris when he comes to our little city! I felt truly lucky and spoiled, thought Izzie reminded me that; “It’s not spoiling if you have been good”.

After my run Izzie and I decided to make a little treat for her grandparents as she was spending the night at their house so we could have a date night! We still have some of that giant 9 lb bag of apples left, so Iz and I decided to make her favorite, gluten free apple crisp. We keep our recipe quite simple, and she does most of the work!

Izzie’s Apple Crisp

Oven to 350, I like to bake my crisps S-L-O-W-L-Y.

I peeled and sliced 8 apples and Izzie went hog wild mixing them with spices and putting them in a greased baking dish. I am not entirely sure of the amounts, she was puttering through the spice cabinet muttering ; “A little of this..a little of this…”, but I know she used cinnamon, vanilla, and some agave nectar in the filling.

Izzie was also in charge of the topping, we have made this so many times she knows the drill;

2.5 cups rolled oats (we used gluten-free)

1 cup flour (again we used gluten free)

2 Tbsp flax seed meal

1/4 cup agave nectar

1/4 cup grapeseed oil (we have also used walnut oil or you can use butter)

2 tsp vanilla

2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp salt

You have to taste it of course!

Into the oven went the crisp, where it proceeded to tempt us with it’s delicious smells for the next 45 minutes. Served over vanilla ice cream it’s absolutely divine, and still very good for you, it packs a nice punch of fiber and omega’s. We dropped Izzie off at the grandparents where she proudly showed off her crisp, and we were off to date night!

We went to our favorite;

I was actually quite restrained for my birthday dinner, though it wasn’t really intentional, I think the run I took was so vigorous it kind of sapped my appetite and I wanted something fresh. Of course I had some wine, this wine was the hey mambo sultry red (a blend of syrah, barbera, zinfindel, petitie syrah, malbec and alicante bouchet ’08).

It was deliciously smooth, not too dry and just a hint of sweetness, sort of a deep cherry or raspberry tone with a touch of oakiness. Jaime got their fabulous mojito, she said it could have been sweeter but I thought it was perfect.

For dinner I had a local, fresh mozzarella rolled in panko and fried. This was served with fresh local heirloom tomatoes and basil and a balsamic reduction. Simple? Yes. Out of this world? Absolutely! The flavors were so fresh and the combination of the warm cheese, crunchy shell, cool tomatoes and basil and rich reduction was just what I wanted. I got a side of hearth roasted broccoli as well and shared some of Jaime’s local and sustainable steak dinner. She also got a cheese pizza, where she puts it all I have no idea..

We finished up the night with an espresso creme caramel, which I neglected to get a picture of. It was okay, a little too sweet and not quite enough espresso in my opinion but it was flawlessly executed. We spent the rest of the night walking around and sipping coffee, checked out the construction on the expanding co-op, and then met friends at the Flat Street Pub for a little beer and conversation.

Altogether..I would say the best birthday yet!