Yesterday, the Spouse and I celebrated our twelfth wedding anniversary. But this isn’t the year for fancy dinners or weekends away. Instead, we went to church in the morning. I led the kids program during the 10 am Family Service, then sat with the kids during the 11:15am Parish Worship. The Spouse sat in the pews for the first service and sat with his PhD prep during the second. These are days of juggling and getting things done.

We did spend our evening together.

In our kitchen.

Making cakes for Beangirl’s birthday. Icing sugar and food colouring, rose petals and romance. That’s what our twelfth year looks like and it’s great.


Beangirl’s birthday isn’t until next Saturday, but as school breaks up on Friday and most of the neighbourhood has plans to scatter right away, we decided to have a Monday afternoon birthday picnic instead. We loaded Plum’s stroller up with cakes and games and stopped by the school to pick up a band of excited kids, then headed to the park to celebrate. We strung bunting between garden stakes, spread out a table cloth on the grass and loaded up a picnic table with bakewell tarts, cucumber sandwiches, iced tea and strawberry cake. Since November, my daughter has been planning this Alice-in-Wonderland-themed party so there were Eat Me and Drink Me labels and hats aplenty. (Beangirl spent some birthday money on a fashionable linen trilby which she decided was the most “hatterish hat.”) We played the inevitable croquet, sang silly songs, ran balloon-between-the-knees relays and had summersault races. Everything you need to celebrate an eighth birthday.

DSCF2692I had a Session meeting to attend at the church so I had to leave the party before everyone had gone home, leaving the Spouse and the kids at the park to pack up and migrate home without me. Thanks, Spouse, for making that happen. And thanks for the songs and for playing with the rowdy kids when I needed to sit down. Thanks for making a hundred cucumber sandwiches. Thanks for missing the Dutch World Cup game this afternoon and playing croquet instead. Thanks for staying up late with me in the kitchen and running out to the store when I ran out of icing sugar. Thanks for everything.

I’d love to say something here about anniversaries and marriage and how partnerships are a blessing. Something about love. Something uplifting. Because uplifting is what this is about, these crazy full days we have together. Not that love and marriage lift me up and above our daily concerns. Rather, love lifts me into them. Into life. Into our life together. The busy days become beautiful. And when I’m tired and feeling collapsed, love lifts me up again to keep on going. Here’s to the beautiful, the sweet, the uplifting love and here’s to the Spouse. xox K.

All of which leads to a cake recipe, doesn’t it?


This is a variation on my everyday-cake. I usually bake it in a deep square 20 cm pan, but for a celebration, I use a round 23cm loose bottomed tart tin, which makes a thinner, easier-to-ice cake. The cake is soft and moist with fruit, and really can be made with anything. Apples work well, as do pears, plums, tinned apricots, frozen berries, rhubarb. Or because Beangirl was born at the end of June, fresh strawberries.

Strawberry Cake

2 cups chopped strawberries

1 ½ cup all purpose flour

1 ½ tsp baking powder

1/8  tsp salt

½ cup sugar

2 eggs

1/3 cup olive oil

2-3 tbsp milk as needed

Preheat your oven to 350º. Generously butter your pan.

Wash your strawberries and slice them in half. If they are really big, you might want to quarter them.

In a large bowl, combine all your dry ingredients. Add eggs and oil and mix well. This will feel really stiff. Then stir in your berries and add enough milk to combine everything together.

Put your batter into the prepared cake pan, spreading it to the edges.

Bake for 45 mins. To check that it is done, insert a skewer into the middle of the cake (trying to avoid the berries) and see if it comes out clean.

Cool for a few minutes before removing it from the pan. Let completely cool before icing.

For this cake, I made a buttercream icing with fresh strawberries for colour. I also used roll-out icing to form the letters. And yes, those are rose petals scattered on top. Very Alice, don’t you think? DSCF2699


About Katie Munnik

Katie Munnik is an Ottawa writer currently living in Cardiff with her Spouse and three growing children. Each Monday on the Messy Table, she writes about the practice of reading lectionary and the practical theology of parenting - from birthday cakes to broken hearts and everything in between. Katie also writes Kaleidoscopically, a monthly column in the print edition of the Presbyterian Record. You can also find Katie on twitter @messy_table Subscribe to this blog.