Continuing on the theme of celebrating, family, gifts, etc...it is about darned time I document what occured on my birthday! Per the usual format, Paul reserved the day of my birthday, planned a day full of surprises and made me feel completely spoiled. I will say, I think I have finally come to terms with the extent to which we celebrate birthdays, namely mine. It took me 10 years to be able to accept the insane generosity with which Paul approaches this day!
As this blog has come to serve as a back-up disk for my brain, I will proceed to recap the day's events. Please forgive me for what might come across as pretty braggy :) I want to remember the details of these days when I've had so many birthdays that the ones from my 30s have become foggy.
The day started off with a gourmet Paul-made breakfast (veggies, potatoes, portabella mushroom, duck eggs and crispy beets), a bouquet of flowers and a lovely letter/card. Bonus: he cleaned the kitchen before AND after he made breakfast.
Next, we made fancy hot chocolate from scratch by grating up the chocolate and whisking it into whole milk and gently heating it up. That divine concoction went into our thermoses.
After I doddled around a little, we bundled up and Paul drove us to a "mystery location" for a "mystery outdoor activity." My birthday includes a lot of "reveals" throughout the day. Unfortunately, this reveal didn't work out as planned. The man had a well-researched plan, but the plan was thwarted by bad info on the Minneapolis parks website. As it turns out, weekday birthdays and cross country ski rentals from Theodore Wirth Park are not a good combo. We now know that they only rent ski equipment on the weekend, so Paul gave me a ski raincheck for later this winter and we drank the hot chocolate anyway.
It was probably for the better that skiing didn't work out because my morning doddling had put us behind schedule. There were many more things to do! Next we went to The Bakken Museum. The museum is tucked into a fancy residential neighborhood, so I was totally surprised when we pulled into a museum. The building is gorgeous and it is full of fun electrical and magnetic exhibits.
We got to play a theramin.
And we played a game where we tried to out-relax each other to get a ball to move. The headband was supposed to measure my brain waves. It didn't work, but it succeeded in making us look goofy.
Paul willingly gave himself a shock.
In addition the regular exhibits on the main floor, there was also a neat (and empty) photo exhibit on the upper floor of the mansion. We took the opportunity (and the well-placed ledge) to get a shot of both of us.
Since I took my time soaking in the entire museum, we had to adjust our lunch plans. Paul's chosen lunch restaurant closes for a few hours between lunch and dinner and our timing was off. Since we were still pretty full from the large breakfast and hadn't expended the energy we had expected with the skiing, we opted for a small lunch at Birchwood Cafe.
After lunch I was given the option to choose "a yarn store, a kitchen store or a pottery store" where we were to go and pick out a present for me. I opted for pottery! I was hoping to find a mug that I could use and have tied to my memories of the day. We explored the gallery at The Northern Clay Center. I didn't find a mug that screamed "YOU MUST HAVE ME" so I now possess a pottery raincheck from Paul.
At that point in the day, the dogs needed our attention so we headed home. This was also a good time for us to relax, open gifts and get ready for dinner.
Prepare yourselves for an onslaught of close-up pictures in future blog posts, because Paul got me a macro lens for my birthday! I, of course, immediately put it on my camera and started scouting for things to photograph up close. Like these tea leaves:
Turns out macro lenses aren't good for arms' length pictures :)
As much as I wanted to hold myself back from doing it, I couldn't help but take macro shots of the flowers. It is like a magnetic force that macro lens owners cannot resist: "Must. Document. Flower. Details."
With that, I needed to put my new toy away and get ready for dinner. Paul has come up with a pretty clever idea for choosing the restaurant for my birthday. A few weeks in advance, he sends me a message with a multiple choice question. This year's message was:
Please select your birthday dinner from the following choices:
1. Caramelized cauliflower with golden raisin caper sauce and crisp parsley
Heirloom greens and winter vegetables in a lentil vinaigrette
Sweet yams with lemongrass coconut sauce and stir fried veggies
2. Garlic, spinach, and parmesan artichoke tartlets, provencal
olives, cornichons and a shot of white verjus
Butternut squash ravioli with black olives provencal, roasted walnuts
and harissa sauce
3. Sautéed Early Winter Greens with aleppo chili, lemon, olive oil
and cow’s milk feta
Sautéed Parisian Gnocchi with autumn vegetables, soft herbs and black
truffle-taleggio cheese fondue
4. Rutabaga and apple soup, crème fraîche, dill
Braised scarlet turnips, Sweet Tango apple, toasted almonds
Poached eggs, braised celery root, broccoli, porcini whey
I choose from his list and that is where we go! The actual restaurant is a surprise until we get there, but at least I am assured they will have one thing on the menu that appeals to me. Food is mighty important to me, as you might have guessed, so I think this idea is genius. It gives me something to look forward to while still maintaining the element of surprise that Paul enjoys.
This year, I choose what was behind door #1 and it was Heidi's! Funny enough, I didn't end up ordering the entree that sold me on the place because there was a truffle pasta dish that hit just the right spot for me that night.
The restuarant is really dark, so our photo ops were pretty minimal. I can assure you the food and the company were both wonderful.
I braved the flash once to take this picture of our vegetable terrine. Art on a plate! The powder on the left side of the photo is brown butter powder and the dark drizzle was an apple cider reduction. Delicious!
The bartender was scared of my camera, but we goaded her into taking a picture for us anyway.
There were other gifts and thoughtful touches interspersed throughout the day that I cherished as well. Paul has mad skills for remembering little things that matter to me and show he is listening/noticing/caring about me. He is a fabulous partner.
Thank you, thank you, thank you to Paul for a really wonderful day.