Stephanie Burgis
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Birthday goodness
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Thanks so much to everyone for all the messages I got my birthday! :) It was really great to read them. And it was a great birthday, too. Patrick and I drove out to York, one of my favorite British cities, to visit Fairfax House, which bills itself "the finest Georgian townhouse in England". It turned out to be too old to be really useful for my own research purposes - the Kat series starts in 1803, and Fairfax House is furnished as it would have been in 1762 - but it was still absolutely fascinating and fun, my very favorite kind of museum to visit. You can look at photos and descriptions of all the rooms online - my very favorite room was the Saloon, where the ladies of the house would entertain their female friends with tea and cakes and gossip. Such a delicious room, and I soooo wanted to be in on one of those sessions! (Preferably as one of the gossiping ladies, rather than one of the servants, which admittedly would have been much more likely...)

One of the rooms, "Anne's bedroom", was still in dustcovers when we got there - a new 13-part TV miniseries of "Robinson Crusoe" had been filming there last week, and as part of the show, Sean Bean's character had dramatically died in that 18th-century bed. The docent in that room was way too excited about the brush with Sean Bean to tell us much about the history of the room itself, but hey...Sean Bean is one of my favorite actors, too, so I can't really complain! The new Crusoe is apparently going to show on NBC in America before it comes to British television, but whenever it does arrive over here, I'm definitely looking forward to watching the show and seeing all the scenes shot in Fairfax House!

And thank you so much to everyone who sent me chocolate cake recipes! Frustratingly, our nice vegan substitute for sour cream (plain vegan soy yogurt, in case anyone ever needs to know! :) ) wasn't available at the last minute, but luckily, Maura McHugh had found us a great vegan chocolate cake recipe online. We had to make a few substitutions in the recipe (plain flour for wheat pastry flour, sunflower oil for canola oil, etc.), but it all worked out beautifully and turned out to be the best vegan chocolate cake we've ever made. Thank you so much, Maura!

So here's a picture of the cake itself, with the candles spelling out "31":

Steph and her 31st birthday cake (w/o flash)

And here's how we spent the rest of the evening, munching delicious cake and playing with one of my very best birthday presents:

cake and LOTR!

(You can check out more photos from last night on my Flickr account.)

It was a perfect birthday. :)

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