Are you ready to hear about how thoroughly loved and appreciated my family and friends made me feel through the time, attention and understanding they shared with me on my birthday?
(These posts always make me feel too braggy, but I still share them because we've enjoyed looking back on past years when our memory fails us. So, I thank you for bearing with me through a narcissistic post!)
OK! Here it goes...in chronological order!
My birthday was on a Friday, so I took the day off from work and started my day with a quiet breakfast of random leftovers at home. While I ate, I read a back issue of Knit.Wear magazine that had come in the mail from Becky. One of the issues she got me was probably the best one they have published (Fall 2012). She also gave me a set of wool dryer balls from Mountain Meadow Wool, which are right up my alley!
I then headed out to have lunch with my Mom at Brasa. This isn't the greatest picture of her but it was the only one I took and I like that I caught a laugh. For those in the Twin Cities, Brasa offers a vegetarian menu upon request. My mom and I shared 7 different things from the vegetarian menu. Ordering multiple small plates is a good way to go at Brasa.
I also got to blow out the first of my birthday candles. Luckily they didn't try to fit the correct number of candles on that little cornbread cake. Thanks for lunch, Mom!
After lunch I went to a coffee shop and then browsed a fabric store, which was a nice way to relax before Paul got home and took the reigns of my birthday celebration. When he got home from work he was carrying a big bouquet of flowers and a big smile. We had time to open presents (a fancy, small toaster oven to replace our cheap, old, disgusting regular toaster, a monopod to take better selfies like the one below (ha!) and a few other thoughtful presents).
Then, we got dressed up and headed out for pre-dinner drinks and appetizers at Toast Wine Bar. Paul had chosen it because it was close to where our dinner reservations were and they had good small plate options. I've been there once before with my book club. Both of the times I have been there, I've been struck by how friendly and nice they are there, making each customer feel like a regular at the place. I was also struck by how much of a weakling I am with alcohol. I ordered a gin/campari drink and could only drink a little less half of it!
We then walked a few blocks and went into what looked to me like an unmarked door. Paul had me step out again to look at the tiny plaque by the door handle so I would know where we were: The Bachelor Farmer! This place has been on my radar for a long time but I haven't been there. As with the past few years, about a week before my birthday, Paul sent me a list of entrees to choose from without any identifying restaurant information. I made my choice from that list and then he made the reservations.
The system works! Everything about The Bachelor Farmer was wonderful! I loved the decor, from the exposed beams to the flour sack napkins. Our server was truly awesome at her job. The little radish, butter, salt and cracker crisps combo was a great alternate to a standard bread basket.
Our food was all made with such attentiveness and care and it showed in the layers of flavor. I choose to savor the food and company instead of photographing it, but for posterity sake, here is what we had:
We shared toasts that had:
Fresh cow’s milk cheese, lacinato kale, pistachios, crispy parsnips, pickled celery root
My entree was:
Poached duck egg, saffron-stewed leeks, carrots, roasted Brussels sprouts, crème fraîche
Paul's entree was:
Grilled duck breast and confit, maple glazed cipollini onions, pickled rainbow chard stems, braised sunchokes
For dessert, we shared:
Brown butter lemon cake, parsley ice cream, lemon curd, toasted almonds
Let's sum it up like this: at times the food was so good that the conversation suffered. At one point, I asked Paul a question only to look up at him and find him with his eyes closed, savoring the flavors of the sauce on his plate. When he realized he had missed a beat, he looked up and said, "Sorry! This is really good. Can you repeat the question?" That, my friends, is a good dinner.
Then, bright and (not so) early the next morning, we were up and continuing the festivities. Paul made a wonderful breakfast for us that included a creative take on an eggs benedict. His version consisted of goat cheese, tomato, lemon butter and sauted arugula served on an english muffin. Alongside it, he served sweet potato home fries and fruit.
Paul had meant for us to follow up breakfast with both of us making a snowman together in our front yard, but the snow was too powdery. So, instead we took Tchazo on a dog walk and had a bit of downtime before the next activity.
Paul does such a good job being the plan-maker for my birthday! It is a fun challenge for me to let go of the role I usually play and let him lead the show.
Our next stop was a museum I had never heard about before for an exhibit I didn't know about. This was a great find on Paul's part! The exhibit we saw at the Minnesota Museum of American Art was called Repetition and Ritual: New Sculptures in Fiber. I really enjoyed how the exhibit connected materials and concepts that are present in the "crafting" that I do in a "high art" way.
There was also a time capsule project happening at the same museum. We enjoyed looking at some of the contributions from prisoners at the Stillwater prison, kids from local schools and adults from an adult learning center. Plus, that space-agey time capsule is pretty awesome all by itself!
From there, Paul's plan was for us to have a sweets-laden high tea at Cafe Latte, but after all of the decadent eating I had been doing, I felt more like a modest cup of soup and some fruit. Luckily, that was available on the cafeteria side of the cafe, so that is what he had. Which, I later found out, it was good that we did!
Because, the last Paul-planned surprise was a 3 hour cooking class at Cooks of Crocus Hill! He signed us up to be sauce masters with their "Mastering Sauces" class.
The space and kitchen was lovely and when we first got there we were offered wonderful cups of tea, which covered the tea part of the high tea we had skipped. And, throughout the class, we tasted the sauces on salads, pasta and over desserts, which took care of any extra space we had in our bellies!
The class was part demo/lecture and part hands on. We came away with a packet of recipes, new inspiration and affirmation that we know a pretty good amount about sauces already!
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you to Paul for being tuned into my interests and passions and for spending his time, energy and money crafting a day tailored to doing things together that make me happy. It was a pretty full and amazing 24 hours!
After a quick rest, I took some quiet time with Jill and her Unitarian Universalist community to celebrate the winter solstice.
And, that wasn't even the end of it! I had a few more gatherings with friends before my birthday (Thanks for the yummy lunchtime birthday dessert, Sarah!) and after (Hi Jamie!) to mark the occasion.
One of those gatherings included some vintage skeeball action, lunch and a shrub (Thanks, Sally!). The jury is still out on how I feel about shrubs, but I can tell you with absolute certainty that my birthday was well celebrated! Cheers to that!