Chelsea turns 20 today.



Raising Chelsea has, without a doubt, been one of the most important experiences of my life. Is it what I expected when the doctor proclaimed “It’s a girl!”? No. In fact, Chelsea was nothing like what I imagined having a daughter to be. Which, to my immature, 27-year-old mind, was fairly predictable – tutus and ballet lessons, Barbies and dollhouses, pink everything, and endless hours of reciprocal hair brushing and styling. And of course, sweet compliance and a willingness to charmingly engage all who encountered her.

Uh, nope.

I knew that I had a different kind of girl when a well-meaning “friend” (who had a same-age son) said, “you know “XXX” (her son) is like a puppy. And Chelsea is, well, more “cat-like”.


What did that even mean? After much consideration I realized that what she meant (sorry, cat-lovers) was that Chelsea was aloof, not overly friendly and definitely not cuddly (do I need to mention here that I am no longer friends with Puppy-Child Mom?).

It was unsettling to hear that this was how my daughter was perceived. But I had to admit, what she said struck a chord somewhere deep inside of me. Chelsea was not so much shy as, well, “discerning”. It was a struggle to get her to say hello to someone, much less offer up a hug or kiss, and she rarely wanted to snuggle. And her hair? Well, she absolutely HATED having her hair brushed or styled in any way, so I’d be lucky to get it smooth and untangled and leave it at that. No french braids for moi.

But there were other differences too – she did take ballet lessons, but she was sort of a goofball in class, never really taking it seriously or trying hard to perfect her pirouette. So eventually I gave up and packed away her tights and leotards. And while she did have some Barbies and a great big dollhouse, what she was MOST interested in was……dinosaurs. And sharks. And whales. By the time she was 3, Chelsea could identify any and all of them, and it was always amusing to watch people listen as this adorable little girl with the long, glossy hair and big blue eyes spouted facts like what the largest living shark was (it’s the whale shark, by the way). Don’t get me wrong- Chelsea was very “girly” in lots of ways – she loved dresses and ruffles and frills. But there was always this undeniably steely core that was, in many ways, her true essence. And as a young, first-time mom, it took me a while to figure that out. And, more importantly, to accept, appreciate and respect it.

It didn’t help matters that, although she loved, loved, any and all Disney movies, who, inevitably, were her favorite characters? The evil villain – each and every time. Scar. Ursula. Gaston. I remember sitting in the school psychologist’s office when Chelsea was in kindergarten, convinced that I had done something horribly wrong to create this child who was so hard and tough and identified with the “bad guys”. What did this say about me? What kind of mother would raise a child – especially a girl – like this?

And I will never forget what the psychologist said to me. She told me 2 things: 1) that Chelsea was who she was from the day she was born, and that I would look back when she was 20 (which, at that time, was like, a million years away) and realize that she was still very much like the little girl I had right now. And, 2) that certain traits – while maybe not so easy to take on a 5-year-old – would turn out to be invaluable to her later on in life.

And she was absolutely right (thank you Dr. Anna, wherever you are). That same tough and steely toddler grew into the pre-teen who weathered the storm of her parents’ divorce, the adolescent who never let the mean girls see her cry, and the young woman who has gone f0r – and gotten – every single goal she has set for herself. Her chosen college. A much coveted internship. A highly selective study-abroad program.

And, along the way, something else happened. She softened. And sweetened. A lot. In ways that she demonstrates each and every day. Like when she lets her 2 year old brother – who worships her – come into her room and wake her on her day off (and, play with her Blackberry, iPod and make-up brushes). Or how, even while away at school and living her own busy life, she remembers to buy and send her grandparents the appropriate birthday and anniversary cards. Or, knowing how much I love all things Disney – and all things vintage – she presented me with this for Mother’s Day.

I love that I finally – and for many years now – have the girly-girl I always dreamed of. And I love to shop and talk clothing and makeup with her. But what I really love is that she still has that “edge” that also makes her one of the sharpest and funniest people I know.

And I feel very lucky that – thanks to Dr. Anna –  I always tried to honor the little girl she was, which I hope allowed her to grow and flourish into the woman she is today. And helped me evolve into the mom I was destined to become.

Yes, my Chelsea is sweet and salty, which is why it’s so perfect that she loves this treat, and why I’m making it for her today, before we go here for her birthday dinner. You’ll note that it’s a tea room (doesn’t get much “girlier” than that). And, one named after a Disney character. That’s NOT a villain.

caramel popcorn

caramel popcorn

caramel popcorn

She even lets me braid her hair.


Happy 20th Birthday Chelsea Jane.  I love you munchkee.

Salty Caramel Popcorn
adapted from Smitten Kitchen

nonstick cooking spray (like Pam)
3 T. vegetable oil
1/2 c. popcorn kernels
1 1/2 t. baking soda
3 c. (600 g.) sugar
3 T. unsalted butter
1 T. kosher salt

Note: the smitten recipe calls for 2 c. of salted peanuts and 1/4-3/4 t. cayenne pepper. I omit the peanuts because of this peanut (read here for more on that) and the cayenne pepper because, well, she’s sweet and salty but not so much spicy. Feel free to adapt………..

Lightly coat two large, heatproof rubber spatulas, a large mixing bowl and two large baking sheets with the nonstick cooking spray.

In a large saucepan (one with a lid), heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the popcorn kernels, cover, and keep the saucepan moving until all of the kernels have popped, about 5 minutes. Transfer to the prepared bowl, removing any unpopped kernels.

Have the baking sheets and baking soda ready. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, butter, salt and 1/2 c. water. Cook over high heat, without stirring, until the mixture becomes a light golden-yellow caramel, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and carefully whisk in the baking soda (the mixture will bubble up).

Immediately pour the caramel mixture over the popcorn. Working quickly and carefully, use the prepared spatulas to toss the caramel and popcorn together (like you were tossing a salad), until the popcorn is well coated.

Spread the popcorn onto the baking sheets and quickly separate them into small pieces while still warm (you might want to have a bowl of ice water at the ready in case you burn a finger or two). Once cool, store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

(print this recipe)

This delicious recipe brought to you by Sheri Silver


  1. Sara on June 4, 2011 at 9:43 am

    Thank you for writing this! I need to remind myself ALL OF THE TIME, that my different 5 year old will be an amazing man 1 day. Happy Birthday Chelsea!

    • sheri silver on June 4, 2011 at 10:06 am

      Thanks Sara – he WILL be!

  2. Maria DiNardo on June 4, 2011 at 11:37 am

    How moving and beautifully written. I agree – Dr. Anna had some great things to say and I think about them often. Love your writing and your recipes – can’t wait for more!

    • sheri silver on June 4, 2011 at 9:20 pm

      Thank you so much Maria – I really appreciate it!

  3. lily on June 4, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    Stunning! This post easily moved me to tears!

    • sheri silver on June 4, 2011 at 9:20 pm

      Thank you Lily!

  4. Jenna C on June 4, 2011 at 10:20 pm

    What a beautiful post! I admit, I teared up reading it. I know I sound like a broken record, but I love your blog and I love your recipes.

    PS – I, too, adore all things Disney 🙂

    • sheri silver on June 5, 2011 at 7:45 am

      Jenna – thank YOU! I could use a closet full of “broken records” like you – your comments mean so much to me!!! And you love Disney too!?!?!?

  5. Jenna C on June 5, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    Anytime! I love your blog more than Facebook! Seriously, so happy you decided to blog! I grew up in California, so fortunately, Disneyland was a three hour drive away and we visited it all the time! My little girl loves Disneyland, so we’re taking her for her third visit next week! I seriously love, love, love all things Disney 🙂

    • sheri silver on June 5, 2011 at 9:07 pm

      Thank you! Well then, stay tuned for an August post as we make our 9th visit!!! WE love, love it too! 🙂

  6. Pascale Le Draoulec on June 5, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    My kind of food writing Sheri!
    Enjoy the day with Chelsea. And congratulations to you for raising such a fine, self-assured and thoughtful young woman.

    • sheri silver on June 5, 2011 at 9:06 pm

      Thank you Pascale – I couldn’t ask for higher praise from anyone else………………

  7. Eleni on June 28, 2011 at 9:38 pm

    This is so beautiful. I find your wisdom as a mother for 20 years, refreshing and comforting. Every time I read your posts, it feels like a reassuring hug from one mother to another and it makes me look forward to every moment with my two wonderful daughters and appreciate every moment now. Thank you.
    And not to mention those amazing recipes. Love the bon maman jars, we use them as drink glasses thanks to my neighbor, and now another use for them!

    • sheri silver on June 29, 2011 at 7:56 am

      Eleni, thank you so much for this. To know that what I write is resonating with even 1 person means the world to me – I so appreciate your taking the time to reach out; thank you!!

  8. January on October 5, 2011 at 9:03 am

    What a lovely tribute to your daughter! And what a bonus – a recipe!

    • sheri silver on October 5, 2011 at 1:41 pm

      Thank you! Let me know if you try it (be warned though……’s addictive!)! Just took a peek at your blog and look forward to reading more! 🙂

  9. Kara @ June & Bear on October 5, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    OH, I love this post. I tell myself and others often than my daughter’s spitfire qualities will be invaluable later in life.

    • sheri silver on October 5, 2011 at 1:38 pm

      Thanks so much! You are right to believe in this because it’s so true……….starting to see the same in my now 15-year-old. Love your blog, by the way – beautifully designed and your children are adorable!

  10. JD on October 5, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    This was so nice to read. I had two boys before I had a girl. She’s almost 2, but so much different! Thanks so much for sharing this, it’s a great reminder to accept and love your kids no matter how different they are from what you thought they would be.

    • sheri silver on October 5, 2011 at 1:35 pm

      Thank you! I really appreciate your note – parenting can feel so isolating if you don’t “share”, and realize how many of us are going through the same challenges that you think are only yours……………..Just discovered your blog and look forward to reading more. I love the concept! 🙂

  11. Runnermom-jen on October 5, 2011 at 5:19 pm

    What a sweet and wonderful tribute to your beautiful daughter!! You’re right, 20 does seem like light years away when they are little.

    • sheri silver on October 5, 2011 at 7:41 pm

      Thank you SO much! It really does go so quickly………..LOVED your post, by the way – what a beautiful picture of your boy – those eyes!

  12. ML@My3LittleBirds on October 5, 2011 at 9:09 pm

    I loved this post. You know your daughter so well. My oldest is 8 and I feel like you did when you first went to that psychologist…that 20 is light years away. But she was so right- the fundamental aspects of our personalities are consistent throughout our lives. I think about my childhood and see so much that has remained the same in how I’ve approached the world.Loved the recipe too. Thank you for linking up at My 3 Little Birds Sheri!

    • sheri silver on October 6, 2011 at 8:03 am

      I can’t tell you how much what you wrote means to me – and thank YOU for the opportunity to be a very small part of your wonderful blog, and for the exposure to so many other talented writers that I’ve now happily discovered as a result!

  13. Dwija {House Unseen} on October 6, 2011 at 12:25 am

    She sounds like a MARVELOUS person. A true force to be reckoned with. You did good, mama!

    • sheri silver on October 6, 2011 at 8:02 am

      Thank you SO much Dwija! She truly is marvelous (but I AM a little biased…………).

  14. […] MOMent I connected with most was Sheri’s post Sweet and Salty. If you haven’t read it yet, be sure to make some time to do so today. I think you’ll […]

  15. jodi on October 8, 2011 at 7:59 am

    What a lovely, beautiful post, Sheri! I see so much of my own daughter in your story.

    • sheri silver on October 8, 2011 at 8:47 am

      Thank you Jodi – so much! 🙂

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