This Is How You Celebrate 100

We returned home to the Twin Cities to celebrate birthdays.

This is how we celebrated Burrell’s 100 years.

Burrell Birthday #2

We call her our grandmother even though she’s technically my step-grandmother.

Her children went all out. The theme was yellow. There were lots of candles on her cakes of course, though not quite 100. People wore funny hats and we wandered among bouquets of yellow flowers. Friends and family came from all over and she delighted in her grandchildren.

The meal did her 100 years justice. One of Burrell’s daughters and her husband flew up from Florida and helped my godmother prepare the feast, since they love to cook. Chef Jeff, our family’s Most Interesting Man in the World made roast beef with horseradish, homemade marinara sauce, figs stuffed with goat cheese, marinated shrimp, and carrot-apple slaw to name a few.

Others contributed perfectly Midwestern sides like crock pot calico beans and that sweet, mayonnaisey broccoli salad I love that’s dotted with raisins, bacon, and red onion.

Before Burrell blew out the birthday candles, someone asked her to share her secret to life. She responded, “loving,” without a pause. I know Burrell also likes her morning coffee, a glass of wine in the evening, and eating some amount of real butter every day, so I hope those also have something to do with her long, happy life. I’m counting on it.

She used to swim laps in a quarry near her Iron Range home and she still swims laps at the pool, putting us all to shame.

Today, we gathered for my brother-in-laws birthday over steak, asparagus and popovers. Doggies love birthday steak, too.

Steak Dog CollageJeni loves popovers the best.

DSC_0150My mother-in-law recreated a recipe for chocolate bread pudding she found in her 1896 Fannie Farmer Cookbook.

Bread Pudding Collage

Living a part from our family and old friends can feel tough, but also makes our gatherings all the more special. We no longer take our time together from granted.

After this weekend of party food, I think it’s time to join the Mason City YMCA so I can try my hand at swimming laps and keep up with Burrell.

Update 1/5/15: Nearly a year has passed since I wrote this post. Burrell’s children are gearing-up for her 101st birthday party next month and we’re thrilled to attend. And we did end up joining our local YMCA. I tried my hand at swimming laps. It’s hard. Really hard. I think Burrell’s got me beat on this one.


I took this photo before my first swim.


  1. Feisty Eats

    What a great food weekend! I enjoy reading your recaps.

    • Jeni Flaa

      Thanks-I enjoy reading yours as well. Looks like you had a wonderful tropical trip and your kitchen looks great!

  2. Val - Corn, Beans, Pigs & Kids

    So glad you were able to travel up to Minnesota and celebrate with your family. Sounds like great fellowship and food were had! And 100 years – wow! I love that love was your grandmothers advice. Also I loved the “yellow” theme – so bring and cheery! Perfect for celebrating 100 years.

    • Jeni Flaa

      It was a blast. Hope you do well on this snowy day-no snow here yet.

  3. Kristen

    What a special day! I love how much love was put into this.

    • Jeni Flaa

      Thanks Kristen. Her daughters are so dedicated to caring for their mom.

  4. Renae @Launderlife

    100! Amazing. I love her secret. Approaching life from a place of love instead of fear is very yogic. I like your little popover pans. It sounds like a great trip.

    • Jeni Flaa

      It is yogic:) They’re actually my mother-in-law’s popover pans but made me think I should try to find some of my own.

  5. Matt Beglinger

    Jeni, love this post. Sounds like you’ve got a pretty awesome family. Also, love the new site, you’re doing really well! Here’s to 100! 🙂


    • Jeni Flaa

      Thank you Matt. I’m so happy I finally took the plunge and got my old blog transferred. It was well worth paying a couple people to walk me through the process. I always love reading whatever you and Lissah write.

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