We had such fun birthday party yesterday! Here’s a little song to set the stage!
It was Joe’s 60th and we invited all our oldest and dearest island friends and family — the kind where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came . . .
And while Joe was out back getting the garden ready, I was inside baking cakes! If you look close in this picture, you will see that I had help. I can’t take all the credit. (Hint: my help is fuzzy and there isn’t much of it showing here. He kept skirting away from the camera!)
I started by making Joe’s favorite Cheesecake, a recipe from my first book, Heart of the Home. He loves it because it’s plain and simple and melts creamily in his mouth. (I know because I watched him eat the last bit of it this morning for breakfast!)
I pressed a mixture of graham cracker crumbs and melted butter into this 9″ pie plate.
. . . Then I beat a package of softened cream cheese until it was light and fluffy.
To that I added a half cup of sugar . . . this recipe is SO easy . . . it’s the perfect cooking project, it makes you feel like you can really COOK!
. . . then a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice . . .
. . . and a half-teaspoonful of vanilla . . .
. . . then I added two large eggs, one at a time, beating after each . . .
And that’s IT! Voila! Poured it into the unbaked crust . . .
And into the oven it went for about a half hour. While that was baking, I went outside to see what Joe was up to . . .
. . . and how things are progressing; he’s planned a big surprise for his friends. Since the 1970’s, Joe has been taking photos at every party, event, or hang out; in the car, on boats, at weddings, at halloween parties, graduations, clam bakes, tag sales, dinner parties, christenings, you name it, he took a photo of it. He promised (some see it more as a threat) to do a slide show for YEARS, but it’s just never come together. He and his BFF Bob, who also has box loads of slides in his possession (some that one suspects could be quite incriminating) decided that the occasion of Joe’s 60th Birthday seemed like the perfect time to finally do it . . . so they worked on their slides; Joe MADE this “screen” out of boards and canvas which he then hoisted into the big maple tree out back. (That’s what’s going on in the picture above.)
These three, Joe, Bob, and John have been cooking Christmas Dinner at our house for the last twenty years! While Bob was gathering together his slideshow, John came early to help Joe get set up . . . these three are the true representation of what BFF looks like inside the man cave. ♥
They made a little theater, with an aisle and everything.
They hung the lights on the arbor that Joe had JUST finished rebuilding on Friday; paint dry? Yup! Up go the lights . . .
I could see they didn’t need me . . . I went back in to make the topping for the cheesecake.
When it came out of the oven I spread this mixture of sour cream, sugar, and vanilla over the top.
Then, I put it back in the oven for another ten minutes . . . and here it is, out of the oven to cool a bit, then into the refrigerator to chill.
While that was happening, I made a three layer Carrot Cake (also from Heart of the Home in case you’re looking for it!).
Here it is cooling . . . three layers of cinnamon and nutmeg spiced crushed pineapple, coconut, walnuts, shredded carrots, and golden raisins. AND, btw, this recipe makes fabulous carrot cupcakes!
And here’s the cake, all frosted and decorated . . .
New Music . . . for this part . . . (today’s generation has the electronics, but we had the music!) This was last night. I forgot to take photos of the food! I’m so sorry, because it was potluck and everyone brought just gorgeous things, fresh garden vegetables and salads, lobster sliders, potato salad, and Lowely made a huge moussaka; Joe and John barbecued swordfish and steak . . . then, after dinner, the theater filled up and the show began . . . a trip back to the 1970’s and 80’s! There were cat calls and teasing, oohing and aaahing, saying, “OMG, Remember that???” Or, “there’s so and so, whatever happened to him . . . ” And, “Who’s THAT?” Laughing, joking, crying, sighing, reliving; this group of people have known each other through thick and thin, they’ve traveled together, in more ways than one . . . they know each other’s moms and dads, sisters, brothers, and children . . .
So it wasn’t just friends, it was families too, which are also friends! All gathered for the memories, and the good times we’ve had, coming together on this little island, most of us from somewhere else, pulled here by the same sort of heart magnet that brought me . . . a long road that lead right here, to our house, last night.
What we lack in wisdom, we make up for in good will. ♥
Even when we get busy and see less of each other, that just makes times like these more wonderful, to sit in the candlelight and cricket noises and catch up on each others lives.
And here is the happy much-loved Birthday Boy . . . can you see the little string of hearts hanging in mid air just in front of Joe? I swear, they follow him wherever he goes! ♥♥♥♥♥ (Most of the time you can’t see them, but every once in a while, the camera catches them in just the right light . . . which is why I love this camera . . . night time shots may not be clear, but they are real.)
May all his dreams come true!
And here we are, Martha, me, and Kappy cutting the cakes . . . I’m thinking, as I’m writing, this is what it’s all about . . . friends, family, food and fun — and all the good things we’ve shared.
I have to show you a card from last night — for Joe from Iris, the dog we love, that lives across the street with Martha and Gerry and comes over to visit almost every time she gets loose (might be because of the dog bones we keep in the pantry)! Here’s the front of the card:
Hope you had fun at the party! We won’t mention that picture of you skinny dipping in Tashmoo Pond!
OK, and here’s another promise I made a while back — remember when we went to the Emma Bridgewater Factory in England?
Where they had that design room where they gave you everything so you can paint your own Emma cups? Here are the ones we did, the way we turned them in, before they were fired . . . those pencil marks, we were told, would burn off.
And they did . . . here they are, after firing; they sent them home to us; they were here when we got back; we drink our tea in them every single morning now, he drinks out of his, I drink out of mine! I put the word “England” on mine so I would just look at it and remember.
With the date . . .
And here’s the cup Joe did; he wanted the ship. We love them even more now, and as time passes I’m sure they will become more and more valuable to us.
Maybe someday you will go to Emma Bridgewater and paint your own cup, but until then . . .
Maybe you would like to have an Emma Bridgewater Royal Jubilee cup just like this one, directly from England, for your very own? If you already have one, wouldn’t it make a nice gift for someone you love? If you agree, just leave me a comment and we’ll have Vanna (our random number generator) stay home from the tanning salon one day next week so she can draw a name and tell us who this cup belongs to! OK girls, believe it or not, the parties aren’t over yet. More cooking this week! Happy Monday everyone! XOXO P.S. Just in case, here’s the recipe for the Cheesecake!
- 2 1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs
- 3/4 c. melted butter
Combine and press into a buttered 9 in. pie plate, building up the sides. Set aside and make filling.
- 1 – 8oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 c. granulated sugar
- 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
Beat softened cream cheese until fluffy. Gradually blend in sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Pour filling into crust. Bake at 325° for 25-30 min; til set. Make the topping.
- 1 1/2 c. sour cream
- 3 Tbsp. sugar
- 3/4 tsp. vanilla
Combine all ingredients; when cheesecake comes out of the oven, spoon topping over top of hot cheesecake, spreading evenly; return to oven and bake 10 min. longer. Cool; then chill several hours. Serves 8.