Sunday, January 16, 2022
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I’m Hungry: A Birthday and Chocolate

Today is my thirty-ninth birthday which means two things.

1) It’s been 10 years since my champagne birthday which seems ridiculously impossible and
2) Another bottle of champagne is in order.


My thirties so far have been so rich and full and abundant. So many milestones have been a part of this decade and not for a second have I taken any of this beauty and growth for granted. The very thought of how quickly these years have passed make me feel a little panicked and not because I haven’t grasped and loved every single morsel, but because they’ve gone by so swiftly. These years have been filled with so many extraordinary things. Love and loss. Rewards and challenges. They’re all wrapped up in this flawlessly imperfect little package called life. A life I love and treasure and feel completely grateful for. Birthdays bring out these fleeting emotions and all of a sudden, your ideas and plans seem terrifyingly overdue and even a bit out of reach at times. You’re forced to reflect and refocus and possibly even alter your own personal timeline. And all of those things might very well be good and needed, but there is still this teeny, tiny echo of vanity that tugs away at your spirit.

Thirty-nine. It sounds so old.

But I don’t think it feels old.

And I don’t think it looks old.

My daughter has been busy journaling these past few weeks and is completely fascinated with my childhood diaries. I brought one down the other day and we read it together and in a strange sort of way, I still felt like that little girl. Writing about how hard geometry was and how much I loathed Max, who sat next to me and repeatedly sharpened his pencil and always fidgeted with his glasses. About my never-ending obsession with stirrup pants and banana clips and permed hair.

Those sentiments aren’t just words on paper. I remember feeling those things. I remember being that little girl.

The progression of time is truly captivating. Some days it feels as though there aren’t enough hours to accomplish everything and other days, you wake up and you’re thirty-nine and you wonder how that can actually be. I feel as though I’ve already lived an entire life and yet I still feel like I have so much living to do. I’m not sure what the future holds and I can’t concern myself with the fine details of what my life might be. I only know what it is right now. A life filled with enormous love. I have so much to be thankful for and every single day, I let that gratitude envelop me. Even if it’s only for a few minutes. Even if I have to really search hard to find it. There is always a fragment of joy. Always a reason to be grateful.

Another year of this life with these good people? I’ll take it.

I’m sharing a recipe for salted chocolate rum sauce (adapted from Michael Smith) which is the perfect accompaniment to homemade brownies or an ice cream sundae. And it’s absolutely mandatory for celebrating a thirty-ninth birthday. xo

1 C 35% cream
2 T sugar
2 T cocoa powder
8 oz bittersweet chocolate
3 T rum
Pinch of sea salt

Pour the cream and sugar into a small saucepan and bring to a rolling boil, stirring constantly. Turn off the heat and whisk in the cocoa powder and chocolate, stirring until smooth. Whisk in the rum and salt, pour into a jar and refrigerate.

Nicholetta Bokolas is the author of the food blog Pepper + Paint. She is a wife, mother and lover of all things fresh and local. She believes good food is meant to be shared and loves coming up with unique recipes that feed both the body and the soul. You can follow Pepper and Paint on facebook and twitter.

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