Weekend Reading
June 9, 2024

Earlier this year, my oldest friend mentioned that her family needed to be in Denver for a few days in June.

They’d rented a place, and since there was room for one more, she asked whether I’d like to join.

I’ll be traveling with her family again later this month, and as a result, I wasn’t sure I could take the time away this past week.

As the dates of her stay in Denver approached, however, I realized how much I wanted to make it work.

I try to take every opportunity to travel with her, especially in these years when her kids are so young and growing so quickly.

The trip also happened to coincide with my birthday on Friday. I love annual celebrations, but I’ve spent the last few birthdays in my head, which isn’t the most celebratory place to be.

So, in a game time decision, I headed west on Tuesday.

While the purpose of the trip was to be with Chloe, her husband, and her kids, I ended up having a few other meaningful catch ups with friends.

On Tuesday night, I stayed with my friend Ashley in Fort Collins.

Ashley and I met through blogging a long time ago. She’s been my collaborator and food photographer for three cookbooks now.

Ashley was pregnant with her daughter, Lennon, as we were working on Power Plates. Four and five years later, as we were photographing the recipes in The Vegan Week, Lennon was a talkative, energetic little girl.

On this trip, Lennon introduced me to her favorite board games, told me about the books she loves, and gave me a glimpse into her interests. I’ve been lucky to check in with her periodically during these formative years.

Speaking of Power Plates, the chef who prepared the food for those Power Plates photo shoots also lives in the Denver area. I was able to see him on Thursday, to meet his husband, and to hear about his new professional endeavors.

Last night, Chloe and I had dinner at the home of a friend of her sister’s, who has also become a friend of hers. Our host, JS, and his partner treated us to a great homemade meal. It included my tofu fingers, which are apparently on regular rotation in their home. Who knew!

As I was leaving for the airport this morning, I thought about how this random, last-minute trip included even more social time than I had counted on. The trip reminded me that I have people—kin, chosen family, friends, colleagues—all over.

This has to be one of the very best things about getting older: realizing that we’ve created a quilted community for ourselves, connection by connection, memory by memory, stitch by stitch. Sometimes with intention, sometimes by chance.

When I’m not in a good headspace about my birthday, it’s often because I feel that I’ve failed to foster deep connections that would widen my nuclear family. I sense time passing and wish for a person or people to share my intimate, every day moments with.

Where I haven’t failed, however, is in welcoming and cherishing my friendships.

A close friend in NYC texted me midday on Friday. She wrote that her birthday wish for me was “peace, contentment, pride in your beautiful life, and basking in all the love and appreciation coming your way.”

She added that some of the pictures that I’d shared in my stories in the past few days—snapshots of me laughing with Chloe’s girls and eating great food in good company—led her to believe that I had already found it.

She was right.

When birthdays come and go each year—a total of fifteen of them since I started writing this blog—I always feel especially appreciative of this community.

Thank you for being present today, last Sunday, and quite possibly for years as I’ve grown up and tried, often inelegantly, to figure things out.

And happy Sunday, friends. Here are some recipes and reads.


1. I’m eager to make this black lentil salad with my tofu feta.

2. I’m not a big cold soup person, but I had Andalusian gazpacho last night, and it was so good.

3. I love the looks of this copycat vegan Chick-Fil-A cobb salad.

4. Love a single serve pasta!

5. I had some tasty sorbet after dinner on my birthday, but I wish I’d had a slice of Brit’s strawberry crunch cheesecake instead!


1. Super-tasters and food science nerds, rejoice! A fresh, fun, quick look at the way your tongue works.

2. Rosencrans Baldwin looks at the boom in elective steroid use.

3. A disturbing, long-form piece on coercive and devastating reproductive healthcare encounters experienced by women with sickle cell anemia.

4. Some tips for parents who are supporting kids through earlier puberty.

5. A fun look at how astronauts are eating nowadays.

With that, I’m happy to say that I’m home now, in the city that is my favorite place of all.

I’m ready to enjoy it in the week ahead.

I’ve also got a fun roundup recipe post—one that I know will resonate with readers—coming your way. Till soon!


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  1. Happy belated birthday, Gena. How wonderful to hear of how you celebrated, and were celebrated.

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