Seems like the days pass by more quickly with each passing year. Loved ones come into your life, stay for awhile, maybe grow with you, and sometimes they leave. Sometimes unexpectedly. Sometimes it is through the losses we experience in our lives that we become aware that life is precious, our loved ones are precious and that we need to celebrate and enjoy our love and our lives every chance we get.
It is with this semi-deep introduction that I share with you our family tradition of celebrating not only our annual birthdays, but also our half birthdays. It is a tradition that I started about 15 years ago. I got the idea from a Hallmark greeting card advertisement. They were just trying to sell me more birthday cards and wrapping paper, but I saw an opportunity to have additional celebrations throughout the year. I like cake and gifts and happy parties. I like seeing my loved ones happy.
So I created my own version of half birthday celebrations. I will tell you about it.
First of all, a person's half birthday occurs 6 months after their last annual birthday (on the same date of the month, but 6 months later). In this case, we celebrated Jack's 1/2 birthday which occurs on July 30th. So this party happened last Wednesday evening.
After you have the date set, you need to gather the appropriate ingredients for your half birthday party. The most important of these you can see in the photo above, a homemade half birthday cake. Now this is not just a two layer birthday cake cut in half. It is a single round layer of cake, cut in half and then frosted as if it were a whole round cake. There is frosting in between the layers and slathered all around and on top. You can either make half the recipe for the whole round cake or make the whole recipe and save the other layer to eat as a snack cake at some later time.
Jack's half birthday cake shown above was made by me, and it is a zucchini spice cake with pecans. The zucchini of course was homegrown in my veggie garden. It is frosted with a lemon cream cheese frosting. Very tasty, smooth and decadent.
Then just like regular birthdays, half birthday gifts are another important ingredient. The difference in gifting for half birthdays, is that the gifts usually are less in number and less expensive more "fun" gifts. Not "gag" gifts, mind you. Just more along the line of trinkets or accessories. I said usually this is the way it goes. Well look at the pile of presents Jack received in the photo below:
Jack's Half Birthday Gifts
I think we did go a little overboard on the number of gifts for this half birthday. There were about twice as many gifts as usual. Between my gifts and Bob's, Jack did very well in the gift department. None were all that expensive, and some were quite fun, but I will get to that after I show you the "cake ceremony" as we refer to it around here.
We are on my front porch, half birthday cake aflame, and this is Jack waiting patiently for me to fetch my camera and take the picture before he can make his wish and blow out the candles. Note the colorful natural beeswax candles adorning the cake.
OK, I took the photos of the flaming cake, Bob and I sang "Happy Half Birthday" to Jack and then Jack was free to wish and blow. And blow he did!
One big breath of air blew all of the candles out. That means he gets his wish!
So now Jack gets to open his half birthday cards and gifts. His gifts were varied and all were useful things, from the barbecue cover and rain gauge from Bob, to the coffee gift card and watch repair tools from me. One gift from me caused great amounts of curiosity and hefting, feeling and shaking of the wrapped package to figure out what was inside, immediately followed by large amounts of laughter once the gift was opened and revealed.
What could it be that caused such fits of laughter?
Why, a homegrown zucchini, of course!
A big 1 1/2 lb homegrown dark green zucchini, freshly plucked from my garden that very afternoon. He loved it! I told him that I had to share some of the prolific zucchini and this was a good opportunity to do it. I am sure he double checked to see if he had locked his car doors or not. I gave Bob a zucchini "party favor" to take home and enjoy too.
After the cake ceremony and opening of the gifts, we had a nice dinner outside on my porch table. The menu consisted of Zucchini Parmesan seen below:
Zuke Parmesan ready to bake
Zuke Parmesan just out of the oven
Gotta use up that fresh zucchini!
We also had my famous Stuffed Broccoli Leaves which is sort of a cross between Greek dolmas and my Mom's Stuffed Cabbage Leaves. The broccoli leaves were from my garden. This is my favorite way to use the fresh broccoli leaves, although I do cook them as "greens" other times. Their taste, color and texture remind me of the grape leaves used in the Greek dolmas (stuffed grape leaves). They were delicious!
Stuffed Broccoli Leaves in the pot ready to cook
Cooked and about to be eaten! (A taste test by the cook)
After we had our fill of comforting dinner fare, we indulged our sweet tooth with zucchini spice half birthday cake topped with the natural vanilla ice cream that Bob contributed. The combination of the cool creamy vanilla with the sweet spicy texture of the cake was outstanding!
Zuke Cake and Ice Cream. Yum.
We finished the evening by watching an entertaining movie on DVD. A fun family evening at home. No crowds. No travel, traffic or parking. No waiting for service. Very comforting.
Half birthdays are a fun way to celebrate our lives together. A tradition that we will continue.
Farmer, gardener, baker, cook, massage therapist, cat & chicken Mom, partner & business owner. Sells earth friendly products for you and your home, including natural soap, candles, body balms, cat toys, cat beds & many other handmade crafts.
This Harvest Basket is a collection from mountain rural life, the everyday wonders of nature and the forest, my vegetable & herb gardens, fruit & nut trees, chickens, kitty cats & my loving partners. My endeavor to live a natural, healthy and peaceful life on my 3 acres in the beautiful Sierra Nevada foothills also includes home cooking, baking, canning & crafts. Join me on my journey of learning and growing each day. I will share my Mountain Harvest with you.