Les Petites Tartlettes au Citron...for a birthday 'chez nous'

There are so many "firsts" in life.  We just passed another "first" of many that are happening this year as our first little bird flew the nest.  M. wouldn't be home with us for her birthday.  A sweet group of friends, whom I have never met, all took her out for dinner to celebrate her special day.

Birthdays, more so than other holidays, are big for me.  It is the one day a year that the birthday person gets sole focus.

It's that full day each year to remember and celebrate how much that one little soul that entered our family changed our world forever.

Fortunately for us, we were able to get her home for the following weekend and delight her with many of her favorites...not surprisingly...they were food related.

And as we all may remember, those "favorites" become so dearly missed when faced with college cafeteria food day in and day out.

I had been "pinteresting" her many proposed ideas for her birthday "cake".  I figured she wouldn't choose the traditional birthday cake with frosting, as she has always preferred simpler sweets.

She was my child who took those frosting laden cupcakes at birthday parties, flipped them over, and ate the cake part only. (I can assure you that tendency does NOT come from her mother)

I knew when I hit upon these sweet little lemon tartlettes she would love them.  I combined a couple of ideas into one...borrowing the tart crust recipe here, a filling recipe there, and the meringue topping idea from another spot.

Is there anything more fun than making "les tartlettes"? Yes, that is a rhetorical question.  How special to have one's own mini pie right there - so pretty and...all to oneself!

It's amusing at this stage of parenting to ponder how traditions come about and become defined as something not to be missed from year to year.

They start out as small occurrences...barely noticed.  Somehow, they get repeated a few times until special recipes, events, occurrences...become beautiful new traditions.

It's cute how siblings often reinforce traditions for the benefit of each other.  R. will often point out, "Oh, Mom...what about fixing her this...or doing that...like we have always done."  

"Really, have we always done that?"  I mused...realizing that without fully knowing it, we as a family have established our own unique traditions.

I can already predict there will be the "college years" traditions that I can already recognize.  The long drives back and forth from college establish pattens of favorite things to do along the drive.

Of course, Austin offers any number of fun spots to discover.  And we do have fun with that...but, for me, its the little roads off the main highway that call out to me.  

Each drive back and forth, I venture out farther and farther into the Texan countryside to discover what little pockets of life exist in the farm country.

Little roadside barbeque stops billow out their smoke while the intoxicating scent of beef roasts in black barrel smokers, handfuls of freshly gathered pecans are piled up to be bagged, and all sorts of jams and jellies are to be had...of course many with a dash of spiciness to complete that Texan twist.

I just came home with my favorite...fig preserves!

We've discovered the love of all things "kolache",  which is a Polish pastry with a variety of fruit fillings tucked inside.  We've also discovered that a kolache from this road side stop IS NOT the same as that other kolache stop...over there.

I'll definitely have to delve into the history of the kolache more and possibly feature this pastry here on 'thyme'.  A polish heritage that settled in Texas?  I must know more about these stories...  

All of these new foods we're sampling, I'm sure are being incorporated into our ever evolving panorama of yearly traditions that define our family.

Think about it...what are some things your family repeats year after year...whether you are living in the same location or have moved to a new one?  

From our time spent in Japan, my son always gives M. a little package of Japanese treats that we enjoyed while living in Japan.  

The package usually consists of seaweed wrapped/soy flavored crunchy snacks, Pocky sticks dipped in chocolate, and these little marshmallow balls filled with a sticky fruit filling.  

So, what yearly traditions do you have...that you may not even realize yet ARE traditions?  I'd love to hear them. Do you have a favorite food, restaurant, habit, event that seems to be repeating itself over and over again?

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