{FF} Best Way to Spend a Summer Night

Last night Joe and I hosted some friends for what I hope will become a summer tradition at our house; a movie night under the stars.  To me, there is nothing more decadent than sprawling out on the grass, all cozied up in a blanket, and watching a movie, all the while listening to the crickets and enjoying the nighttime breeze.  There is a luxury about it I can't fully explain that is endlessly appealing.  And so it went, our little group enjoyed the last rosy daylight hours, had some food and drink, and then settled in on the lawn for a private screening of "True Romance".  {A little Tarantino never hurt anyone.}

I love that my husband, production wizard that he is, is able to provide us with such a set up.  It fills my heart with so much joy and warmth to see those I love enjoying themselves.  The simple pleasure of it all is just perfection.  Our backyard may not look like this one {from the pages of Apartment Therapy}:

But as far as I was concerned, my view last night was perfect: 

I hope you too are soaking up the last bits of summer with the ones you love, doing your most favorite things.   

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{FF} Bonbon Pastry & Cafe

View of the West Side Market from our front of house table

Thursday morning was not my first visit to Bonbon Pastry & Cafe, but it did remind me of why I so enjoy going there.  And so I thought why not give a little Friday Favorite love to one of my favorite spots to grab a bite in the city?  Proprietor & Pastry Chef, Courtney Bonning, is not only very talented and a joy to chat with, but also has an impeccable grasp of comfortable chic, both in her menu and in the design of the cafe.  If you aren't careful, once inside you may forget you're in Cleveland altogether, and mistake yourself for being in a cozy little European cafe.

My dear friend {and dining companion} and I were seated at a table in the front of the restaurant with an enviable view of the West Side Market which made our visit all the more lovely.  It's hard for me to stray from my order of "Bubble & Squeak", a house specialty of root vegetables, brussels sprouts, bacon and poached egg.  Yes it is as good as it sounds.  It was my friend's first visit, and she opted for the "Vanilla Bean French Toast" which is incredibly decadent and served with sweet corn, blueberries, and blueberry compote.  We tried to show a little restraint by sharing an order of the "Cinnamon Sugar Donuts" served with preserves {which I polished off with my fork after the donuts were gone - I couldn't help it and have no shame}, Nutella, and sweetened mascarpone.  A warm cider for her and coffee {attentively warmed as needed by Bonbon staff} for me accompanied our breakfasts.  Their full menu is just delightful and French Press coffee crave-inducing.  And I simply could not leave without picking up a forearm-sized Chocolate Eclair to take home, the majority of which {again couldn't resist taking a couple bites myself} my husband happily devoured for breakfast Friday morning.

Quite possibly my favorite thing about Bonbon?  That charming space of theirs can be yours for your next special event.  They'll create a menu just for you and have a full liquor license.  Entertain the idea of entertaining your guests there and then check out their catering info here.  And for God's sake go get yourself some French Press & an eclair!

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{FF} ♥ Birthdays! ♥

My 4th birthday, circa 1984.
Simply put, I love birthdays.  They are a beautiful celebration of life and love and as far as I'm concerned there isn't much that gets better than that.  From the time I was little, birthdays have been a big deal at my house.  When my brother and I were younger, my parents {especially my mom} would go to great lengths to create the birthday party of our dreams each year.  The planning for such parties began a month or so in advance with the selection of our theme.  Would it be a Strawberry Shortcake, She-Ra, or Jem birthday {for me} or a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, Shamu, or Batman birthday {for my brother}?  {Yes, we were both children of the 80's.}

The invites, paper plates, goodie bags, and pinata all centered around this theme, and the week before each party was spent preparing the house for all of our family and friends coming to celebrate.  I always loved receiving the responses of who was coming, and choosing the perfect outfit to wear for the party.  The whole process just made me feel so special.

That process of preparation took the one day of my actual birthday and stretched it to a birthday celebration week.  And, many times in my case our family would be on vacation for my actual birthday which meant a small celebration with the four of us on our trip in addition to the big party at home.  This stretched my birthday celebrations even farther to where I was comfortable declaring "Birthday month!" come August 1st.

This concept of a birthday week and birthday month were foreign to my husband when we first met, but now, years later, he's come to expect them not only for me, but for himself as well {which I find incredibly cute}.  And now we celebrate in a whole host of ways, dining on a favorite meal out {or in} just the two of us, a birthday dinner and cake {or pie} with both sides of the family {mine & his}, and/or a big party with family and friends here at the house or a favorite venue.  It's all quite elaborate and designed to truly celebrate the person who's birthday it is and everything they're all about.

And so it goes, that in this house birthdays will always be a big deal.

Why a Friday Favorite all about birthdays?  Well, it's my birthday month! August 14th is fast approaching, and true to form, our house is under preparation for the celebration we'll host for our family and friends.  I'm very excited.

Beyond the celebrating and festivities, I do really look at my birthday as an opportunity to take stock of what's transpired between my last birthday and the current one, where I'm headed in the near future, and where I'd like to be 10 birthdays from now.  This particular year I'm feeling overwhelmingly blessed and grateful.  Are there things I would like to change?  Absolutely, and I'm working on those.  :)  But there are far many more things when I look at my life that are completely and exactly as they should be.

For that, I am humbled and overjoyed, and just full of love.  To all of you who help make my life that way everyday, I love you very much.  And to all of my fellow Leos and August birthday month cohorts - happy birthday to you!

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