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.


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”.



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.


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!


Hut Hut, Heinz!


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.]


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.




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….




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 ❤ 


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
a pasta shape I’ve never tried before
portobello mushrooms
whipped cream
and one (free) nectarine.

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



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!



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


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.


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!


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.


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.


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.



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,

One Response to “The Taste of 32”

  1. deekerson September 27, 2019 at 12:25 pm #

    Took me a long time to get here, but I’m glad I made it. It was almost as much fun as you actually had on your 32nd. Happy Belated! 🥰

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