I do not try to hide my age.  As a matter of fact, I make my new 7th graders practice their math skills in French during the first week of school by figuring out my age.  First, though, I ask them to guess how old I am.  A humbling experience, trust me.  Soixante-quinze??  Vraiment?  75?  There are always a couple of savvy young men (who have been taught well by their mères or grand-mères.  They guess vingt-cinq.  25.  That makes me laugh as I say Merci beaucoup, monsieur and move on. Then I make the little darlings figure out what year it will be when they are my age.  Something they cannot possibly comprehend, of course. They cannot even imagine their high school graduation yet.

So, last Wednesday was my 58th birthday.  I try to cram in as many celebrations as possible in order to make it last as long as possible.  The BFF and Arles Lucy kicked off big day by taking me to dinner on Birthday Eve at an Italian restaurant in town named Gocciolina.  I cannot for the life of me pronounce the name, but that did not stop me from enjoying every bite.  We toasted with glasses of Lambrusco while we waited.  Our server turned out to be one of my former students which made it even more enjoyable.  What a sweetheart.  And excellent server.  She brought me a delicious birthday gift– aged Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese drizzled with Modena Balsamic Vinegar.  I think I shared some with the BFF and Arles Lucy, but I wouldn’t swear to it.


Merci, Madeleine!

We shared olives.  Eating these always reminds of l’heure de l’apéro (washed down with a glass or two of rosé) with my friends in Provence.  And shopping for them at the marché with La Brune.


For my entrée, I chose hand cut noodles with pork ragu and more Parmigiano Reggiano.


The BFF shared her roasted Brussel sprouts.  She’s nice like that.


As a child, I hated those things.  But now?  Roast them and it’s magic.

My pre-birthday dessert?  Chocolate chip gelato.


And that sweet BFF of mine let me have a bite of her panna cotta with figs.


The celebrating didn’t end there.  Son #2 called me on his way to work the next morning. Then breakfast  with Mr. P and Pretend Daughter #2.  Pain au chocolat and a croissant at The French Corner Bakery.  With the added bonus of speaking French with a bonafide Frenchie, Chef Benjamin.


I skipped lunch because Mme Gould invited me to Afternoon Tea at the Washington Duke Inn.  I had never been to Tea, with a capital T.  Nope, never eaten a cucumber sandwich or sampled clotted cream… until now.

Beautiful and delicious.

The evening’s entertainment and my gift from the Ex-Ex was tickets to see the Durham Bulls play the Toledo Mud Hens at the DBAP.  I am a huge fan of baseball and of our AAA team affiliated with the Tampa Bay Rays.  They won and I have to admit to now having a crush on the short stop, Taylor Motter.  (The picture of him is from the game two nights later- he hit a homerun and the Bulls won against the Louisville Bats.)  Having pizza beforehand with Son #1 was an added bonus.

Since I was doing so much eating and no cooking, I have no recipe to share with this post. I did do a little research on clotted cream, though, because I was not at all sure what it is. (Making it involves heavy whipping cream and cooking it in the oven for 12 hours.)

I hope that I have made you hungry and that you look forward to your own birthday and to celebrating another trip around the sun with your friends and loved ones.  I am a very lucky girl.  I am surrounded by people who love me and who love to eat and have fun with me.  What more can a girl ask for?  PD#2 gave me a Gratitude Journal.  We’ve promised each other to keep our Gratitude Project  going even though I will stay in middle school and she will move on to high school.

Son #1 and I sang Jimmy Buffet and Martina McBride’s song, Trip Around The Sun, when he was a senior in high school for his final exam concert.  I was thrilled that he asked me to do this with him.  A special moment with my boy.  I hope to have many more trips around the sun.

Bon appétit, mes amis.  Stay grateful and celebrate!

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