anything you wanna do

I’m of the belief that when your birthday rolls around, you should do whatever makes you happy.

If you want full-fat yogurt with rhubarb for breakfast, then you should have it.


(Of course, since it’s your birthday, you should probably have a very buttery, cinammon-sugary morning bun with your yogurt. But you might eat it too fast to snap a photo of it.)

While you get dressed, go ahead and hit replay on Conor Oberst’s song White Shoes three times. Because you find it mesmerizing, and because the advice is so good.

“Anything you wanna do

just tell me what you wanna do”

On your birthday, you really ought to wear your favorite shoes. Even if they’re a little quirky.


And when you get your hands on that new camera, your first real camera, you should spend the morning fiddling and snapping.

DSC_0036 DSC_0010 DSC_0028

And you mustn’t forget the obligatory new-camera, facing-the-mirror shot.


When your daughter asks what kind of cake you’d like her to bake, don’t hold back. Ask for that coconut cake from David Lebovitz that you’ve been eyeing in that cookbook for years. Don’t worry over the fact that it requires three layers, homemade coconut custard, and a rum syrup. She can handle it. (And that link there–the one with the recipe that says you can use a store-bought sponge cake? Know she isn’t going for store-bought, no way. Not for her mama.)


She’ll make the whole thing, start to finish, including toasting the coconut. But hang tight! You don’t get to taste it until later.


Because you really ought to get out. What’s that? You’ve never been to the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park? Why then, pack up the kids and go!

conservatory of flowers

They’ll like it. Especially the carnivorous plants special exhibit.

misty in the jungle carnivorous DSC_0111

When your husband asks where you want to go for dinner, choose tapas. And curse the restaurant for being too dark for photos, because you really wanted a shot of that glorious pile of patatas bravas with spicy tomato sauce and allioli. Order more dishes than is reasonable. It’s your birthday, after all.

Make sure to leave room for that cake. It will be one of the most delicious cakes you’ve ever tasted; you’ll be requesting it for years. (Just like Alice Waters’ father apparently did.)

there's still some left!

At the end of the day, feel happy. Know that there’s still a little cake left for tomorrow. And a little time each day to do anything you wanna do.

16 comments… add one
  • molly May 24, 2010 @ 14:23

    happy happy birthday! can’t wait to see you and your new camera 🙂

  • melissa s. May 24, 2010 @ 15:43

    It sounds like a perfect day and looks like a perfect cake! Happy birthday to you (and I am still drying my eyes from your previous post!)

    • patricia May 25, 2010 @ 8:11

      It wasn’t perfect–we had a little meltdown in the middle. I thought about writing about that too, but it didn’t really go with the flow. But for the sake of honesty, I’m sharing now!

      When you set out to have a perfect day, meltdowns are inevitable!

  • Angela May 24, 2010 @ 20:05

    Happy Birthday! Looks like you had a fabulous day. And look at that cake!!! I might have to give that a try. My birthday was Friday, btw, and I didn’t get nearly so many pictures as you. Nor are my shoes as cool. But it was a good day all the same. (-:

    • patricia May 25, 2010 @ 8:14

      Happy birthday, Angela!

      I always feel a special connection with people who have birthdays close to mine. There’s something kindred in that, don’t you think?

  • susan May 24, 2010 @ 21:45

    Happy Birthday! Ooh, that cake looks so good. I love the Conservatory of Flowers…I can’t believe the building arrived in SF as a mail order kit. That sounds like a birthday to remember.

    • patricia May 25, 2010 @ 8:15

      A mail order kit? Wow! We got to the conservatory a bit late, and I didn’t get to explore as much as I might have liked, so a return trip is in order. Next time I need to learn more about the history of the place, clearly!

      • susan May 26, 2010 @ 9:15

        I checked up on the veracity and it seems that the Conservatory’s origins are a matter of dispute. There is a sign outside that says its a kit but analysis of the beams showed they were of local materials…

      • patricia May 27, 2010 @ 7:38

        I know I can count on you to check for historical veracity, Susan.

        Local beams–hmph!

  • Just Peaches May 25, 2010 @ 6:00

    Happy Birthday Patricia! What a perfect way to spend the day. That cake looked spectacular. Did it taste nearly as good as it looked?

    Thank you for introducing me to White Shoes — I needed that message this week. Its my new mantra 🙂

    • patricia May 25, 2010 @ 8:19

      Oh my word, the cake was fabulous! One of the best I’ve ever tasted! Lulu is going to try to make a giant sheet cake version for her brother’s graduation party.

      Ah, White Shoes. I could listen to that song again and again and again. (And I do!)

  • Debbie May 27, 2010 @ 13:03

    Happy Be-lated Patricia.

    Looks like you had a beautiful day. Your birthday self-portrait is gorgeous, btw. And that cake…My son is sitting here with me (almost 4) and says, “Oh yummy…what is that?” What a very special treat from your daughter.

    • patricia May 27, 2010 @ 17:33

      Thanks for the nice words about the photo, Debbie. The older you get, the sweeter such words can be!

      Sounds like you have a little boy with good taste!

  • janet May 27, 2010 @ 21:44

    Belated birthday wishes. Happy Birthday month! Sounds like you built a perfect day. J

  • Kristin May 29, 2010 @ 18:19

    By golly you go ahead and wear those quirky shoes daily–if it makes you happy. I wonder if my daughter will make me a cake like that someday. That’s something to look forward to. A new camera–fantastic! Have another great year Tricia.

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