Mom's Birthday Celebration

The older I get, the more like my mom I become -- women say it everyday. In fairness, I'm equal parts of both my parents.  My dad and I can talk gardening, canning and crime solving well into the night.  And from my mom, I got her skin, metabolism, mannerisms and shopping techniques.  Somehow, her ability to accessorize completely jumped over her children and landed squarely on her granddaughter. That six-year-old niece of mine is a rock star with the jewelry.

On a birthday past, I gifted my Mom a set of four gold handled dip spreaders, decorated with a smattering of crystals, perfect for her new home and elegant dining room table.  As I'm pulling the wrapped gift out of my bag to hand to her, she says "Oh! Look what I found!"  She shows me the exact same spreaders.  In silver.  You know what they say about great minds, but that was a little eerie.

Tuesday was my Mom's birthday and I wanted to take her to a restaurant where she had never been.  Hearing great reviews from friends and critics alike (it's rated #3 on Baltimore Sun's best restaurant list according to Four Square) we set off for Woodberry Kitchen, a restaurant known for serving locally grown produce and meats, known as "farm to table" eating.  The produce is in season, with an ever-changing menu. Tucked away by the local TV stations in a transitioned part of Baltimore, one would never know the restaurant was there unless it was your destination.

Our waitress was enthusiastic and knowledgeable, passionate about the food and interested in answering our questions.  Asparagus and ramps were heavily present on the menu, as we cruise through Spring and transition into the pre-Summer season.  Snacking on Lima Bean dip with picked vegetables, we looked over the menu with Mom selected the scallops, harvested from nearby New Jersey and I the stewed Spelt berries with wood roasted ramps, radishes and pea shoots, served in a cast iron pan. Both were delicious.  Known for their delicious and eclectic drinks, I went with one called Birds & the Bees Fizz from their "teetotaler" list.  Made with pickled cherry juice, honey, blueberry and cubed ice, it was as tasty as it was pretty, served in a 1920's champagne class.

Rounding out the delicious meal, we went with the CMP for dessert, which Duff (Ace of Cakes) has raved about as his favorite dessert on the Food Network's show "The Best Thing I Ever Ate". Made with malt ice cream, wet peanuts, chocolate sauce and marshmallow fluff, which had seen the likes of a blow torch, and hardened across the top of the glass with the taste of a campfire marshmallow, we finished it in true Phelps fashion -- every bit of the deliciousness! Even with specialty items like a honey macchiato, I went for the more traditional cappuccino, made with milk from Trickling Springs Creamery, an organic Pennsylvania dairy farm with grass-fed cows.  I'm convinced that these cows produce milk that has a better flavor and sweetness compared to those raised in "other" farms, which makes for a delicious, and hormone free, coffee drink.

The night before, Alice Waters, a true pioneer of the "farm to table" movement was in town and stopped by the restaurant for a meal. A proponent of organic food for over 40 years and a visible supporter of the organics movement today, I was giddy with excitement knowing that Ms. Waters enjoyed the same foods only one night prior.

All in all, a fabulous birthday dinner and a place where I'm confident we'll frequent again soon.  At the end of the night, Mom too, looked happy with the restaurant selection. And the birthday wishes.

It's Birthday Time!


I'm still a kid when it comes to my birthday. I wake up ecstatic and there's very little that can shake me on MY day. Other holidays you share with the world, but on your birthday, it's YOUR day.  This year as I step deeper into my 30's, I've been thinking about the year behind me and the year I have unfolding before me.

Last weekend, I was talking with some girl friends about how we as women treat ourselves.  We are our own worst enemy and are harder on ourselves than anyone else, most of the time unnecessarily harsh.  This conversation got me thinking about things I want to change and do differently, and what better day than my birthday for reflection?

First, I'm going to be kind to myself.  I find that when I'm alone, I speak in a harsh manner.  Expecting and demanding more, always feeling that there's more to conquered and accomplished. It's funny, because I actually enjoy my own company and I like being alone at times. I've explored cities, traveled, eaten at restaurants and lived, all alone. If I truly enjoy my own company, why is it that I harbor little compassion for myself?  I wouldn't speak that way to my niece or my best friend, both of whom I adore. A change in the upcoming year: I want to speak with a kind heart and not be so hard on myself.

The second goal for the year, is learning how to take a compliment.  This is usually how the scenerio plays out:

Friend: "Your house looks great.  I like what you've done around here!" Me: "Oh, thank you. It's coming along, but I really wanted to have more done by now.  I feel as if there's always more that I can be doing (see paragraph above)."

My New, older response:

"Thank you."

Really.  It's just that simple.  No conditions or caveots on the gratitude.  Just a simple "thank you."

Now, I must run to get my Birthday Celebration started!