Archive | June, 2019

The Things June-o Know

30 Jun

In June, I was elevated; food, time spent with people around me…
Here’s some evidence:

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Elevated open-faced sandwich with a side salad.

 

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Shrimp tacos. Level: Elevated!

 

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Peach pork with a little side of ELEVATION

 

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Elevatoes– elevated tomatoes.

 

All of the above was inspired when Victoria sent me my very first Blue Apron Box… I fell in love!  And, as you can see, it also elevated my food photography.  I won’t add this many food photos to every blog from now on, I promise.  

During June, I also reaffirmed a belief long held by Katie Barbaro:  Eating out of a bowl is BY FAR the coziest way to eat.

————-

 

June was a great month because a show I love, The Handmaid’s Tale, picked back up (fitting, since the main character’s name is June) and also, unrelated, because Bel and I threw a Pride Party at the Dream Flat!  JUNE IS PRIDE MONTH!!!! WE LOVE PRIDE MONTH!!! IT SHOULD BE PRIDE YEAR!!!  PRIDE FOREVER!! (and yes, before you ask, we’re working on a Pride Party blog post )

 

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Colour bones

 

On Friday, Bel and I got dressed up and painted the town (well, just 5801, aka the best bar) before her show.  We saw lots of friends and brought bonus stickers to gem anyone who wanted ‘em.  It was a wild pre-show night that included sneaking into a private area for free things, trying on a hard-shelled furry mask, and a police officer who encouraged us to take everything to go.  Wahoo!  HAPPY PRIDE!

 

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Purple hair for pride is #elevated

 

After that, Bel’s show – hilarious —  and the next day was our Pride or die party.  Super successful!

On Sunday morning, Helen, Victoria, and I walked downtown to the Arcade Comedy Theatre to march in the Pride Parade where we grabbed blue t-shirts and, close to the start, ran into our saviors, Emily and Laura.  While we were standing there, chatting to our friends, a man I didn’t recognize came up to me in a sneaky way.  I was suspicious but it ended up being no worries because he was only after past-friendship!  He pointed to his wife, Ali, reminded me of how I knew them both, and I walked over to meet their three children and to have a bit of a catch up.  I couldn’t believe they recognized me.  I was very flattered and pointed out my best friends before we had to walk away and find our place with the Arcade team.  Unbelievably, Eva, of HP house cup fame, was singing beautifually behind us during the march.

 

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Pride & Joy

 

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A celebration!

 

The three musketeers ducked into fl. 2 because we needed to cool down.  And, truth be told, we also wanted to drink champagne.  That afternoon, Bel and I continued to walk around, appreciated Pittsburgh’s new Pride layout, and watched a drag show.

 

Speaking of shows …..

 

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This stud.

 

There was the one at Apis Brewery where both Col AND Helen preformed #mydreamteam and Andrew also stopped by to meet us (how fun!). 

Also, June was the month where Collin…..

 

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Collin watching Collin.

 

…headlined at The Improv!!!  I’ll say it again. Collin had a headlining performance at The Improv!!!!!  It was a sold-out show!!!! He’s very impressive 🙂 My family drove in from FL, along with Andy & Baker from Ohio, and Brit from another zip code.  Emily and Laura came, too. We all went out to dinner at PF Changs. Emily, Laura and I ordered for everyone before 6pm so that we could get the good deals and winked at the waiter to “keep cool”.

 

We all arrived at The Improv in high spirits, and grabbed seats , front and center.  Collin invited me to pop into the green room for a pre-show, green room kiss, making me feel like the luckiest girl in the world.

 

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Happy to be here.

 

The Improv made a special menu featuring Collin-themed drinks and I wanted to try them all.  The show could have been twice as long and I still don’t think I would have gotten enough.  It was incredible!!!!  And the crowd gave Collin a STANDING OVATION!  He deserved it. 

 

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After show hang.

 

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Improvisation photo station

 

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Thrilling!

 

That night, we booked a room in a hotel that offered us a free cookie.  I ate chips on the floor before bed, wore sunglasses to breakfast, and asked Collin to carry milk in a bowl up an elevator for “later”.

 

The next day, Col had another show — so awesome! — this time at the DVE local stage comedy festival.  We found some quality time before the show, just he and I, at a fancy dinner, which was not delicious but was very fun.  As we sat down, we heard this quote that made no sense: “Better early than never, as they say.”

 

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Deciding what bad food to order

 

After the DVE show — where Collin did so well — there was an after-show hang with Billy Gardell (!) who’s just as nice as his reputation makes him out to be.

 

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Pirate to the left of me, joker to the…farthest left of me.

 

——————-

Another show… This time in the form of a podcast!  Col and I had the honor of being on the Ya Jagoff podcast together.  He was on to promote his aforementioned, sold-out gig at The Improv and I was invited on to talk about travel.  It was really entertaining.

 

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Pictured: John and Rachel  Not pictured: Me or Collin

 

 


 

 

The laughter in June wasn’t confined to comedy shows or podcasts.  I shared laughs with my parents and aunts in FL, where we hand painted pint glasses to raise money for the library and made homemade avocado ice cream for dessert.

 

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New boat; new captain

 

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Sisters ❤

 

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Sleeping quarters at the lake house.

 

 


 

 

At some point in June (or maybe this is just when I started to process it), I got some news that both elevated and deflated me at the same time.  Helen and Victoria announced that they were moving in together (CONGRATS!!), but that they were moving across the country to Seattle (CONGRATS BUT ALSO CUE THE TEARS).  I was (and am) really happy for them, but it was very bittersweet.  I love Helen, I love living in the same city as her, and I love our Dream Flat.  But, in good news, Helen and I appreciated our time — you could say it was elevated — once we realized the finite nature of our summer.

And, of course, since Victoria and Helen were leaving, they had a going away party which was organized by the famous Kate — who I was so excited to meet.  Little did I know I would be the one getting a KATIE BARBARO-SIZED SURPRISE.  On the day of the party, Helen texted me to ask if I could bring, in my car, some wine bottles that someone was dropping off at the house. “Of course!” I responded. So when the doorbell buzzed, I ran downstairs to open the door and…..this is what happened.

If you didn’t watch the video, here’s the Cliff Notes version: It is a video of what genuine shock looks like.  Katie Barbaro, who had been traveling internationally for 9 months, WAS AT MY DOOR.  I was in pure shock.  Absolute, total shock.  The most surprised that I have ever been in my entire life.  I literally don’t know if I’ll ever be that surprised again. In this video, you’ll see me find out that Helen knew (WHAT.  “Helen knew?!”) and that Katie was going to stay for the furries.  SHOCK, SHOCK, ABSOLUTE AND TOTAL SHOCK.

20 minutes later, still in shock, we pulled up to Magarac, where the gorgeous, sweet going-away party was being held.  Victoria’s besties, Kate and Dana, threw a wonderful event at a gorgeous venue with delicious food, wonderful people, and genuine warmth.  I feel so grateful to Black Radish for all the love and attention to detail they lavished on our shared best friends, thank you!

 

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SURPRISEE!!!!!

 

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Leave a message after the bee(r)p.

 

At the going away party, I got to see Martin (yay!) and he suggested that after Bel leaves, Katie B. should move into the Dream Flat…. GENIUS IDEA.  Fingers crossed that his idea comes to fruition!

 

That night, after reeling from excitement, and finally getting over some of the mouth-agape shock, Katie, Col and I went to Kendyll and Mike’s to play some games (including charades). Kendyll’s friend Kheng, was (according to Katie and I) the MVP and, no surprise here, the girls team won.
———
June was a whirlwind of excitement and changes.  Here are some more memor-Junes:

  • Fathers Day at Findley Lake, my dad hit publish on his first ‘my blog post’ — and is now sipping on coffee from around the world.
  • Enjoying the process of planning a 3-month anniversary dinner.  Farm to table. Vegetarian. Unique menu item. But then deciding that lacked pizazz and went with Jewish. Good lighting. And you can bring a dog.
  • Erin Tobin and that extra long scooter ride ❤
  • Sleepy goose. Quack quonk
  • Words with friends
  • Playing tennis with an evenly matched opponent named Doug.
  • Our first 24-hour day in Pittsburgh; commemorated by pouring water, very dangerously, into each others’ mouths.
  • Nailing the world premiere video of You Need to Calm Down because “We have our pulse on pop culture.”
  • Helen and I thinking we’re the same person due to our #SharedMemories: “I took Improv with Walt!” “Wait. Did you?! I took improv with Walt.” “Oh, that’s right. You did.” 
  • Helen’s first time headlining at Arcade!
  • Victoria’s drink dysmorphia at Bar Louie after a fantastic ‘Most Wanted’ showcase
  • A picnic I planned (and then loved) of ribs, outdoors, and a scooter ride
  • The roast of Jon Snow (featuring Drogon, Jamie Lanister, and others)
  • This conversation about hard lessons: “I want to play with my ball, that’s my ball.”  “Well, I know you love your ball but other people can play with your ball, too.”
  • Feelin’ cute:
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Commemorated with a selfie.

 

  • Multiple, cozy nights of Blue Apron, Handmaid’s Tale, and love in the Dreamflat

 

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Couldn’t get any cozier.

 

  • Lunch with Emily & Laura at Federal Galley followed by dinner with Emily, Laura, Julie, and Charlie

 

This last photo will be of a real-fur named Charlie, in anticipation for the **next blog, which is Anthrocon 2019!!!!!

 

**Next is subjective.  I write these in whatever order I want.

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Sweet Charlie who did not bite my finger

 

 

El-June-vated,
‘mi

 

Unleashed

26 Jun

In honor of one of my favorite things in the world being less than 10 days away….
This is a (fun) parody of a poem by the former Slam Poetry World Champion, Harry Baker.

 

 

Anthrocon (aka, the furries)

Prelude:  I’ve spent most of my young life trying to fit in because at school I was told I was a big eared, lanky girl who would never get a boyfriend.  Teachers can be cruel.  I was also told that I was creative, intelligent, thoughtful, kind, and brilliant.  Thanks mom.  But what if we were made to stand out?  What if we were made to escape the rat race?  I’m going down that rabbit hole.  This playful poem is for my “people”.

 

As I refur you to the animal kingdom
We’ll just puff puff pass like a dragon’s own wingdom

I’m a furryyyy roaming canine
Who just signed on to wolf it down
Pittsburgh is my hometown

Furisky is my fur name
EEL-ated is my fur name
I prefer things when they’re off the chain

Feel the power
touch your howl
It’s not complex
read the syntax

At Anthrocon I never quite know what to expect
But every year has been the best yet
So on your mark get set
GULP

Try to swallow this down your esophagus
I’m an optimist, rhinoceros, with a hypothesis
A cat with a dog tail ain’t preposterous

A.D.D. has never been a con.  What’s the con? Anthrocon. Imagicon.  This is context.
Here’s two cents.  I get the sense that it’s all nonsense

Having a cow!? Cat got your tongue??
Hold your horses — we’ve heard how they’re hung

In a squeaky accent you can say anything
and it’s difficult to sound menacing

(squeaky accent) I’m not pro life, I’m fur life!
Like that owl amongst a rodent pack
who left without a single snack

Personify.  Person imma fly.  Imma fly fly outta here on the buzz of my fursona
Get so high yinz think that I’m a stona

Metaphorically creeping
and lyrically speaking
Our birds and our bees are real birds and real bees
who know how to please
while you’re on your knees
I’ll climb on your back
Where are all my Tauras’ at?!!

Some fursuiters are naked underneath.
Now imagine the fun that we’re having and then adding the feeling of fleece

Life is an expression
not a depression
and there ain’t no reason the furries shouldn’t be kickin’
and licken’
and sticken’ their noses in all kinds of fun

My giraffe taught me the gift of not fitting in
So in a way, these things I say, are an embodiment of him

My snake taught me it might take awhile for folks to see your hidden worth
So in a way, these things I say, are a reflection of her

We need less teasing, less telly, less CSI
More jungle, more wagging, more give it a try

Pile meta facts with questionable reality as perception starts to teeple
It’s us animals who stand around and pretend to act like people.

The Taste of 32

23 Jun

(Editors note: This post is a requisite 3 months behind.)

You know how some people celebrate their birthdays for a full week? I’m not that extra, but, I have to admit, this year I was spoiled by the people around me ❤  

It started on Saturday, with Bel, and some pre-birthday cardio at the gym (thank goodness for that exercise, you’ll see what I mean) followed by our favorite gorgeous scooter ride through the park.  Afterwards, we spent time at the Dream Flat drafting up a super fun furry email and making a delicious Blue Apron pizza before going on (yet another) fun scooter ride. Later, I dropped Helen off downtown at her show. 

When I picked her up, we had a hiccup on the scooter and decided to call it a night before midnight.  But, the fun wasn’t over because when the clock actually struck 12 – on my legitimate birthday – I was privy to a private, hilarious, 7 minute standup show from Collin about Budweiser and the dentist.  And then he and I got to play one of our favorite games: brush each other’s teeth before bed.

The next morning (Sunday funday) was a day of lasts and firsts. It was my last day taking my live-typhoid pill (I’m coming for you, Ethiopia!), but more importantly, it was my first day of being 32.  And I was gifted one of Helen’s jokes for a year (thank you!).  32: “The age we dream of being, am I right, ladies?”

At 8:30am, Emily and Laura brought the party over with flowers and champagne. I opened my two adorable cards (thank you girls!), and we ate some cookies for breakfast because we’re all grown-ups.  Luckily, the cookies gave us the energy we needed to (literally) run to the aviary so we could make the very first bus of the day on our hop-on-hop-off tour at 9:46am.  With a little bit of birthday luck and a boomerang of Old Town Road, we made it on time.

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Humans have 32 teeth so we were smiling like this all day to celebrate

 

It was a gorgeous day!  We had a fantastic bus (Francis), tour guide (Heather), and driver (Ken), who we found out immediately (because of his accent) was from the same suburb in Ireland that Helen’s mom is from. Cool! We took a seat on the top and waited, excitedly, for our tour to start.

There were 21 total stops on this tour, but we weren’t going to stop at all of them. I was going to choose wisely! And thus, we didn’t get off at the first stop, the Warhol museum. That would have been crazy! Getting off right away?! We would never make any progress! But then we got to second spot — The Heinz History museum. Intriguing. None of us had ever been. “Should we stop?!” I turned and asked. “This is like being on a road trip with you. We’ve only just started”, laughed Helen. But, because the birthday girl was the designated chooser and this particular birthday girl subscribes to the notion that “the fun is in the stopping”, we got off at the Heinz History museum, “stop number two, please”.

 

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Next stop: Pittsburgh!


The museum was AMAZING! None of us could believe we hadn’t been in there before. It’s a Smithsonian and it was so interesting and well done.  It was over an hour before we realized that we hadn’t even gotten to the second floor (there are 6 floors total). Helen, who was about to be moving to Seattle, was inspired by our surroundings and said “Is it called Heinzsight when you look back on how great Pittsburgh is?”

At one point, while perusing the exhibits, I’d lost my notebook. I calmly said, “I’m not concerned, but I think I lost my notebook,” to which Helen responded: “I am [concerned]” but as I turned around in a circle, she pointed down to my notebook, which was resting snuggly under my arm. Haha, whoops.

On that first floor, we learned a lot about the Vietnam War and, randomly, Marvin Gaye.

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The headsets that were mistakenly took for recreations of Agent Orange wands…awkward.


An interesting story: Marvin Gaye’s brother, Frankie, fought in the war and would hear his brother’s pop songs on the radio. When Frankie got back, he told Marvin all about the war and what it was like to be a black man in the trenches. Marvin used those experiences in his songs, and that’s when his music started getting more depth; it was a reflection of what his brother, Frankie, had relayed to him.

After over an hour (the first floor was essentially a stop within a stop), we decided to go up a level since there was still so much else to see. We learned, for example, the origin of the word “Nickelodeon”– it’s a mix of nickel (5 cents) + oideion (Greek word for theater).

Beyond language lessons (and other lessons), we also spent time in a lot of interactive exhibits. And the more we learned, the more questions we had. For example, at one point Emily turned to me and Laura and asked, “How long has mortuary science been using formaldehyde to preserve dead bodies?” We waited for the answer because we had no idea. Turns out, she didn’t either. Instead, she answered her own question with, “That’s where our day has taken us…Thinking about that.”

At noon, we were only on the 3rd floor with still a BUNCH more to see. Bel had turned to me and whispered, “If there’s one thing we can skip, it’s the sports section.” But then, as soon as we turned the corner into the sports section, Emily said, “Oh! Here’s the best part!” And Helen and I laughed to ourselves. We went in and it was true, we would have missed out on a lot of fun.  Like. we wouldn’t have been able to see Emily Athleteon pull a hat trick and sink three footballs in.a.row. Ink-credible!

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Hut Hut, Heinz!


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Moments before Laura scored a goal on herself.


It had been three hours in the Heinz museum and we still had so much left to explore (which is a great excuse to go back) but we had to leave.  It was time for us to get back on our tour bus.

On the way out, we exited via a slide. Emily was so eager that she bumped her head before going down and said she “felt betrayed.” The slide was tight and small, and it was amazing to stretch our bodies as we came out the other side. Laura went down last but a bunch of little kids cut her line just before it was her turn so we all patiently waited for her to arrive.

But while we didn’t get to see the whole museum, we were able to weasel our way into getting a prize by running up the stairs and getting a stamp on each floor. Our prize was a pickle pin– a pinkle. And we each got one before we headed back outside to meet the bus. We’d just spent so much time indoors that we’d forgotten what a gorgeous day it was outside!

Luckily, we had the same guide (Heather, yay!) and made some progress (as far as more stops went) on the bus. The learning didn’t end at the museum, either. We learned about what was happening to the strip district (total reconstruction), and then, it was most definitely time to stop again but first we got to lean over and touch the roof of the Roosevelt building on Penn! It was so cool to touch a part of Pittsburgh that so few have the opportunity to.

We chose our second stop to be in a part of downtown that none of us were too familiar with.  We went for a walk to see the Union Tower building (which we had just heard had been renovated), and admired its beautiful architecture. Not to mention the gorgeous orchids! They were stunning and I muckled them with my eyes.  They were safe.  Not too long after we entered the Union Tower a security guard came over and asked if we worked there. We obviously didn’t, and she told us the building was closed.

So we left and walked some more. The four of us found a new restaurant called Wolfies. We loved the furry title. And our waitress, Carrie, was so nice and extremely helpful. Plus, there was great music playing at Wolfies, for those in the group that were excited about that sort of thing 🙂 Food wise, I always want nothing more than people I love loving something too, so we all ordered food that we could share including buffalo jackfruit dip. [Obviously we over-ordered, but Saint Carrie packaged food for us to go (some if it before it even reached our table). We also ordered coffees, that she graciously let us grab to-go, while we, once again, ran to our bus.]

WHAT A FUN DAY!!!!

This time, we hopped on and had a new tour guide (Sarah) and a new driver (Rich). I didn’t catch the bus’s name. Honestly, we didn’t like Sarah as much as Heather, but the tour was still great. We all loved being on the bus– it gave us scooter vibes except taller, more secure and very safe. PLUS we were getting a new perspective on our city, which was fantastic.  Helen, Emily, Laura and I were all having the best time. We had one more stop — to pick-up some much needed water bottles — before completing our Pittsburgh tour.

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Laughs-burgh

 

At 4pm, we all got back to the aviary a little sunburnt, a little tired, a little dehydrated but OH SO READY for the second part of the day with….

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COLLIN AND VICTORIA!

 

The two of them set up an Iron Chef layout…they had brought ingredients (and bonus cooking supplies) to the Dreamflat to put together an amazing, multi-course meal.  But, PLOT TWIST (but actually not really because this is how Iron Chef works), Helen and I got to go to the grocery store to pick out $32 worth of surprise ingredients that Collin and Victoria had to include in their dishes.

So, while Helen and I were hopping on and hopping off, Victoria and Collin made an  hors d’oeuvre: black olives, fresh pesto, BURRATA (my newly discovered. favorite cheese) and roasted chickpeas that tasted like popcorn. All served with an absolutely stunning bouquet of red roses ❤ 

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Knocking on heaven’s door.

Helen and I went on a Giant Eagle run with our $32 budget and brought back:
a “hottie mix” (spicy peppers)
2 mangoes
grapes
broccoli
asparagus
guacamole
a pasta shape I’ve never tried before
ricotta
portobello mushrooms
whipped cream
and one (free) nectarine.

Our total was $32.48, less than .50 cents over our $32 birthday requirement!

 

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For the second appetizer of the night (have you ever heard of such a thing?), the chefs made ricotta mango bread covered in hot pepper flakes. Delicious!

 

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Spectacular foodtography feat. flowers by Emily+Laura and FRESH pasta feat. mushroom sauce and a dollop of ricotta. #drool

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Veggies decorated with a homemade balsamic reduction. 

Next up, one of my favorite dishes of the night!  Pasta in a shape that I’d never tried before.  The chefs cooked it in water and then put it in a frying pan, with the “hottie mix”, to make it crunchy.  It was hot and crunchy, indeed! So Collin and Victoria cooled it down with guacamole (because guacamole can be a pasta topper) and it was delicious and SO fun to eat. When it was time to re-heat the left overs, this was one of the first things I grabbed.

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Guasta… Guac+pasta


On Iron Chef, there is one winner.  But on my birthday…We were ALL winners.  Seriously!  The food was exceptional.  The company was sublime.  And then, the chefs CLEANED THE KITCHEN!!  Winner winner, so much food left over from dinner. I was a happy birthday girl.

The four of us retired to the living room/porch in order to relax and digest.  We debriefed about all the amazing food we just ate, brainstormed how to get Victoria’s key back to her house without her leaving, and filled the Brita more than it’s ever been filled in its life.

Eventually, albeit still full, it was time for dessert.  Collin and Victoria had made a watermelon cake decorated with grapes, a (free) nectarine, and totally smothered in whipped cream. They had successfully completed their Iron Chef challenge!

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The birthday glow.

I had a DELICIOUS!, fun, spectacular day AND night, which only got better when Helen and Victoria gave me their Pittsburgh themed present — which I adore, thank you!! I felt special and taken care of all day; it was an absolutely fantastic birthday with people that I love.

The next morning, Victoria and Helen had an early flight to Mexico and Collin and I got to spend one more full day celebrating my 32nd. Col gave me a gorgeous necklace and, because he told me he had something planned, I asked him when the next part of our birth-date would start. Collin responded, “Anytime, cus it’s already here.” *mic drop
I was incredulous. What were we going to do??

The two of us went downstairs (at, like, noon, ’cause we weren’t hungry after the Iron Chef) and continued with the food theme (because obviously).  Col had brought us Matzah ball soup, to make together.  I’d never made actual Matzah balls before, and neither had Collin so it was a really fun first-time activity.

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He’s my Matzah, Matzah man.

Col and I lounged the rest of the day.  We did all the things we love.  Went for a walk.  Watched our show together.  Played a game of Dutch Blitz.  Responded to phone messages.  It was perfect. And if all of this wasn’t enough (it was!) my other best friends had sent me some sweet birthday vibes too.  Molly and I chatted; she had had some fun alone time on my birthday, along with seeing a few Fringe plays. Patrick, hilariously, sent a lone link to an Ethiopian coup, with no further details, and Katie left an adorable video voice mail.  I felt SO. MUCH. LOVE. all. day. long.

That evening, after getting help with cocoa butter application (which was such an unexpected delight), Col and I went on our dinner date. But not just any dinner date.  Cols idea was that we were going to set a timer for 32 minutes and whenever it went off, wherever we ended up, that was where we were going to stop to eat. EXHILARATING! As the birthday girl, I got to dictate the entire drive, deciding which direction we were starting out, if (and when) we were going to turn right, turn left, stay straight, etc. Col was going to steer wherever I told him and, this won’t come as a surprise, we had such a fun drive.

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A game AND a date with this gorgeous man?! Happy birthday to ‘mi.

We ended up driving over our allotted time by 1 minute and 46 seconds but I’ll blame the rain storm that happened on our drive.  We found ourselves at Juniper Grill, a place in a strip mall that neither of us had heard of but that had great reviews.   We never would have tried to eat here without this game. On entry, the lighting wasn’t great, it was like a spotlight on our table, but that was about the only thing that wasn’t tip-top about our experience.  The food was phenomenal and the service was even better (big thanks to Kathy, our waitress). I started with the martini I’d been dreaming about, and fresh corn bread that tasted like cake. Col and I then shared some shrimp flat bread and ahi tuna. Again, this birthday and the spectacular food!  I switched to a mojito and Col stuck with the old fashioned because he’s old fashioned and wonderful like that.  For dessert, we shared (free) ice cream with a candle and a chocolate shell. It was blissful.

 

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About to make a wish that has already come true ❤

After dinner, Col and headed back to the house to play some (more) games (like cards) before I fell asleep hours before I meant to.  This was SUCH a great birthday.  My mom must be right, everyone in heaven is in their thirties.

Here’s to 32 tasting pretty sweet. And savory,
‘mi