A Birthday Tour

This is my last year of being in my 20s.  That's so weird!  It's my last year in this age group for open water swimming; of being in this category in magazines (protect your skin with sunscreen in your 20s); of being in this decade in general!  Not that I'm all old and wise now, but I've learned a lot in these past 9 years, and despite still thinking I'm 18 (and apparently looking like it according to bartenders) I guess I'm supposed to have it somewhat together now.

Not that I totally do... but at least I have a job, a place to live, and a great group of family and friends around me.  And I'd call that pretty darn good :-)

Through some weird scheduling, I've managed to have a Birthday Week this year instead of just a day, and it's turned into a food tour of the Mid-Atlantic.  It kind of happened accidentally, and I'm trying not to let it go to my head, because I have had some amazing celebrations with amazing people.
It started the week before my birthday.  I would be away in NYC for my real birthday weekend, and Eric was super nice to celebrate with me early.  Friday evening I grabbed some Peruvian chicken, yucca, and plantains from one of my new favorite places, Sardi's and drove to NoVa to share with Eric.  We're totally obsessed and dinner was delicious, a wonderful way to start the weekend.  I had an awesome Saturday lounging by the pool, then an amazing dinner at Filomena's in Georgetown.  I had the Linguine Vongole (clams in a white wine and garlic sauce over linguine) and totally dominated a tiramisu at the end of it.  It was like being transported back to Italy- the pasta was perfectly al dente, the sauce was begging to be mopped up with bread at the end, and the tiramisu was coffee dessert perfection.  There was even complimentary sambuca (black licorice, not my thing) and amaretto (almond, totally my thing) liqueurs at the end of the meal.  Rooftop stargazing was a glorious end to the night, even if I was falling asleep in my chair.
The next day was Father's Day (not included in my birthday celebrations, but part of my food tour)!  Becky had a wonderful idea to treat Dad to a meal at Woodberry Kitchen, an amazing restaurant in Baltimore.  We had Sunday Brunch there, with Dad and I ordering the exact same thing (eggs benedict, adding a side of skillet potatoes).  I also tried an Earl Grey Latte, it was delicious!  We loved getting to celebrate with Dad and catch up together.  Despite living so near each other, it's ridiculous that we don't all see each other more often.
Our next food stop, and birthday celebration, came on Wednesday.  Mom, Dad, Becky and I once again met up to share a wonderful dinner together at Iron Bridge Wine Company.  My mom thought it would be silly to take a gift up to NYC, have me unwrap it, then take it back to MD, so this was the way for the Maryland family to celebrate with me!  We had an absolutely delicious meal, a bottle of wine to share, and wished we could order dessert.  Well, they were nice enough to give me a little scoop of ice cream there in honor of my birthday, but there was a dulce de leche bread pudding with chocolate that we were all intrigued by.  But one, we were full, two, there was dessert waiting at home for us!
Mom made a 3-berry crisp for me, and I even had candles to blow out.  And then I thought I would cry from the amazing things my family picked out for me.  Becky found this amazing black and sequined top that I can't wait to wear out (I love that she can just try everything on for me and give me something that will definitely be flattering!  woooo sisters!).  And then Mom was so proud, because Dad had a bunch of ideas for gifts and she wanted him to go first.  He heard an NPR segment on these guys, the Beekman Boys, who started with office jobs and slowly got more and more into farming, food, and cooking.  He heard an amazing recipe mentioned that he thought I might like, then didn't know which cookbook it was in, so he bought them all for me!  Gah!  I was geeking out over the pictures already and can't wait to try some recipes!  Previously, I had express interest in a tabletop made out of their super-weathered wood from the pier at the VA house, but then debated what I really wanted (an actual table? a small bench? just the tabletop to go on an existing desk?) and kind of dropped it.  Dad knew what to do though, he cut down a strip of the amazing vinyl plank flooring they have in their kitchen and gave me exactly what I needed- an amazing background for my food photography.  Check this stuff out!  It won't take up much room at all, and it's super easy to clean!  And then, the gift that almost made me cry, I unwrapped some old utensils that were from "Ruth LaGros McLaughlin".  My dad's grandmother, my great-grandmother.  He had these in our basement for years, and when I expressed interest in having something from my Grammie's kitchen (the rolling pin featured in this post), he realized maybe there was a better home for these things.  I am so excited to have them and so honored to have a few things around my apartment from my grandparents and great-grandparents.
Mom was so excited for me to unwrap her gifts, which included some adorable bowls of all shapes and sizes (especially small ones for spices!), a pyrex liquid measuring cup, an extra bowl for my kitchenaid mixer, and the clincher- a food processor!  How have I gone so long without having a good one?!  I hear once I start using it, I'll never understand what I did before it, and I can't wait to utilize this guy.
The next day at my office, we had a pizza lunch from Bertucci's and my mom made her M&M cookies, amazing.  Friday morning, on my actual birthday, I had an awesome swim practice with my team.  Coach Sue said she was going to be mean, which meant long distances (we had a repeat set of 200s, 225s, and 250s all on the same interval) and I loved it.  Others were groaning, but it was funny that without planning, it was an awesome birthday set for me!
I had a half day at work, and then Mom, Dad, Becky, and I were on the road to NYC.  It's the weekend of the Amazing Race!!!  Remember this from last year?!  Becky and I were on park duty again, but you'll hear all about that later in another post :-)  Matt had an awesome idea to go to Eataly for dinner Friday night for birthday celebrations, and knew I would love the foodie aspect of it.  Matt has the best ideas for things to do.  He loves traveling (see my tag-along trips to the Philippines, England, and Iceland) and loves the experience of doing things with you!  So while some of my birthday was spent on the New Jersey Turnpike, I had a wonderful evening in NYC with a ton of my family around me.
 Ed, Becky and I split a rotisserie chicken and a bunch of sides, delicious!
 Then we all finished the evening with gelato.  Amazing, delicious, creamy, gelato!  I got two flavors (una coppa, due gusti), chocolate and sea salt caramel!
Saturday was dedicated to the 5 Boro Amazing Race, and like I said, I'll post more about that soon!
And Sunday was a joint brunch celebration for me and Wes.  Well, it seemed silly that we were still celebrating me at this point, so we were mostly celebrating Wes turning 1 the following Wednesday.  He is such an amazingly sweet little boy, and I'm honored to have a birthday so close to my godson that we can celebrate together!  Or at least for now when he has no concept of birthdays, haha.  We had so much good food, and Patti even made these tropical drinks she saw on Smitten Kitchen (we both love that blog!).  Oh, and Cole helped both me and Wes open our presents, what a nice kid ;-)
Patti, Ed, Cole, and Wes got me a mortar and pestle, and I can't wait to use it!  This year was the year of eating/ baking/ cooking for my birthday!  I think I need to make something really awesome next to showcase my new kitchen toys :-)  The cutest end to our visit was Wes slowly scooting out into the hallway and joining our group heading home.  He finally just gave in and crawled to Mom's feet, who couldn't resist picking him up until the elevator came.  We wish we were bringing you home with us, Wes!  But we'll see you again soon!
Thank you everyone who made my birthday so special this year, with dinners, gifts, texts, facebook posts, and phone calls (and singing voicemails).  If the celebration of turning 29 is anything like the year ahead, I am crazy excited to see what's in store for me.  Love you all :-)

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