There are some people in this world who can find joy in anything. My dear friend Dara is one of these people. Whether she's riding bikes through Amsterdam, camping in Death Valley in July, or going to trivia at the local townie bar, she always knows how to make the most of her environment. She has the most genuine laugh of anyone I've ever met because she tries to enjoy life to the fullest.
I admire Dara's positivity and spirit so much! She is one of the most appreciative people I know. She sends cards in the mail just to say hi, even if we're meeting up that day. Or she'll send a thank you note to show her appreciation just for being her friend. Seeing her very unique handwriting on the front of a piece of mail can pretty much guarantee that a smile is on its way.
She's helped me on a bigger scale as well. When I was going through a rough patch before leaving Philly and was mired in anxiety, she always made pause to appreciate what was good in my life. When I beat myself up, she reminded me of my strengths and helped me to look at stress as a challenge and an area for improvement. She also taught me the importance of self-care, even if it's just treating yourself to a new nail polish or getting to bed an extra fifteen minutes early.
As we've been friends these last few years, her positivity has certainly rubbed off on me! I value self care immensely and find myself doing things like listening to my body when it wants to stay in instead of going out, speaking to myself with more kindness, and focusing on the positive instead of worrying.
So, in a tiny attempt to celebrate the lady who celebrates the small stuff, I wanted to make a small layer cake that was both simple and elegant. I used this recipe for the lemon layer cake, filled the first and third layers with black raspberry preserves, the middle layer with homemade strawberry jam and made a dairy-free frosting with lemon extract. I topped the little cake with some fresh figs, grapes from my friend Susan's garden and some delicate pink currants. I'd say it was a success!
Happy Birthday, Dar!