Friday, April 21, 2006

Oh! Oh! This story is so good, it must be fattening! - Stewie Griffin

Here’s the thing – I generally am pretty bored with my birthday. But as years go by and expectations sag lower, ever lower, and as I realize more and more every day that nothing in this life really is all about me as I once thought it was, I find I enjoy the day more and more. Little gestures – my blogger buddies chiming in to wish me a happy day, phone calls from faraway friends, a co-worker giving me a card or a little token prettily wrapped and presented – make the day brighter and happier, and make me feel loved and appreciated and special. So thank you all, my sweet little Internet ones, for helping make my 36th birthday fun and happy.


Birthday dinner recap:
H and I went to a little café (charmingly, modestly named) on the city’s South Side. We were shown to a window table with such smoothness and flair that I settled in for a relaxing and impeccably presented meal, secure in the knowledge that my waiter’s service was more European than American. (Past vacations in Europe have completely spoiled me for American wait service. I am a snob.) I was also pleased that I did not wipe out on the tile floor in my chic new sling-back heels.

We started with a smoked mozzarella appetizer, with some sort of tomatoe-y, oniony bruschetta-topping-like garnish, on toasted crusty bread.

We each had house salad – I love Belgian endive, I adore olives, and there was enough of each. The balsamic dressing was divine and I could have cheerfully licked my dressing-on-the-side plate. But I did not. European-style waiters frown on that sort of behavior.

I opted for the filet, stuffed with gorgonzola (did someone say blue cheese? Gimme a spoon!) and served in a dark beer reduction. There was some sort of weird-ish matzoh-ey thing underneath, that wasn’t unpleasant, but seemed superfluous.
H had gnocchi – so light “they could float off the plate” as he so poetically observed – in a pepper and tomato sauce. I thought they were a bit oily but he liked them very much.

After I dutifully cleaned my entire plate – ha! – I tried some of their breads – the basket had three different kinds, and they looked like Breadworks bread. Breadworks is a local bakery that produces these huge crusty heartily-flavored loaves; I have been known to live on their walnut-raisin bread. Again impressively, the waiter waited until I had finished my bread before approaching, removing plates, and asking about coffee/dessert. We took a breather to finish the bottle of wine – a very nice, spicy/fruity, if young, red, recommended by the sommelier.

Then onto the real deal for dessert – lemon tart. Now I make a kick-ass lemon tart – lemon curd on top of a crushed-amaretti crust – and this one was almost as good as mine. Mine is creamier. But it was good, and washed down with several cups of strong but smooth coffee. Which is why I was emailing some of you at 5 the next morning. A lovely and relaxing experience; H gets serious points.

And our dear babysitter did not charge us for the evening! It was her present to me!
And I wore the new polka-dotted black dress, and was complimented.
Ah, life is good.
Sorry, I did forget the camera. Which is probably just as well.


Alas, Cinderella turned back into a pumpkin the next day.
My new black wrap jersey dress from Mizrahi for Target came, and I tried it on last night after work. I look like a prison matron. It goes back. As do the cute ankle-wrap wedge-heeled espadrilles – I love them but I just can’t seem to make myself wear them, they are so NOT ME. Also, after much consideration, the black-and-white patterned top from my Dress Barn extravaganza. I haven’t even taken the tags off. If I haven’t worn it in three weeks, I doubt I ever will, because I’ve worn everything else. Since I bought this cute skirt yesterday, however, all the returns and purchases finally balance out a bit. I feel as if I have some nice pieces on which to base my spring and summer wardrobe, and was not too, too extravagant or spendthrift.


I finished EL Kongisburg’s Silent to the Bone last night. One word: anti-climactic. Not sure what I expecting, but the intricacy and delicate touch I have come to expect from Konigsburg were not present in this book. There were some nice bits – the protagonist’s relationship with his older half-sister; the methods by which Connor allows his silent friend to communicate – but overall, disappointing. Which will not stop me from reading its companion volume, The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place, especially since Margaret, the older half-sister, who was far and away the most compelling character in Silent, is the main character in this one.

I returned Sharon Creech’s Walk Two Moons. Unless someone can give me good reason to read it, I just think I’ll skip it. The first chapter left me cold, and I see no point in continuing (the book, that is). Life is too short to read non-compelling books. I think I need to make that into a bumper sticker.


List Friday, courtesy of Pomegranates and Paper

This weeks' theme: Ten Reasons Why You Love Your Neighborhood. Sooooo easy this week.

Go HERE, read THIS.


Yesterday marked the 7th anniversary – if a word so reminiscent of joy and happiness can be used in this context properly – of the Columbine high school shootings. My thoughts were with those parents especially yesterday, and often throughout the years. Now that I have children of my own… there’s nothing more that can be said.

In much, MUCH happier news, today, Friday April 21, is Katya’s birthday. Happy birthday, Katya!


Gina said...

Replies in no particular order:

People adore Sharon Creech. I've picked up her books in B&N, and then put them back down, and then picked them back up . . . and then put them back down. So I can't help you.

I can't believe Coulumbine was seven years ago. Do you remember the shootings in Dunblane, Scotland, ten years ago? Those poor kindergarten kids and their teacher? That happened right when I first got pregnant, when we were in London. I remember sitting at the table, looking at the class photo the newspaper had published, and just bawling.

I'm glad your birthday was such an all-around success--especially that grown-up dinner. :-)

Carolyn said...

That dinner sounds decadent! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

I love that skirt. I liked the decoration on the bottom.

Badger said...

OMG. Gorgonzola-stuffed filet in a beer reduction? My lunch is going to SUCK now, because it won't be that.

And dude, I ALWAYS have to try on Mizrahi's stuff. The skirts and jackets are usually fine, but the dresses, pants and some of the blouses fit me weirdly. They make me look even boxier than I am, somehow.

jess said...

Your dinner sounds perfect (okay, I haven't eaten anything today so ANYTHING sounds wonderful, but still). I happen to like Sharon Creech. Some more than others. I actually really liked Walk Two Moons - had me crying at the end. I also love Love That Dog. EL Konisburg, even at her worst, is still so good. The Outcasts was great.

Loretta said...

First off, belated birthday greetings! Tres chic as to dress and food.

for List Friday - I remember reading your post and thinking I so want to move to wherever you are.

Now I want to move to upstate New York. But only in the spring. Where to live the rest of the year??

Kim said...

Dinner sounds divine.
That skirt is gorge.
I can't believe it is seven years since Columbine. Is it just me or does it feel like it was but a moment ago? That the loss, the horror seems only a few months - certainly not years and certainly not s.e.v.e.n. years ago!

Miz S said...

Man! What a fab dinner. I'm so glad your birthday was special. I know what you mean about the phone calls and notes -- It's so fun to feel special now and then.

Sarah Louise said...

Well, I can't believe that the neighborhood post you did was November! Not cheating, in my book, just referring back to old writings. I'll come back and comment more later (like you're surprised)



MsCellania said...

WOW - I gained 2 pounds just reading about your devine dinner!

And thanks so much for saying you wear a tank under your button downs. I had not thought of doing that *hanging head in shame*. I now have about 5 new looks to wear! I rarely shop, don't get any women's magazines and don't watch TV. So I have no idea what's in, and have no fashion sense.

And I love Title Nine clothing! They have a store here but I don't dare go in unless I have an extra $300 (ha!) laying around, collecting dust.

Columbine was horrible. Dunblane was unbelievable, too. And that guy standing there with the dead rabbit made me so sad and scared. I've had house rabbits for pets since 1990. They are so sweet.

I'm glad you had a really special day for your birthday.

Sarah Louise said...

Walk Two Moons won the Newbery, which, um, is a political award. So, it is not like a perfect book. It took me forever to get around to reading it. I do not own it, but I do recommend finishing it. It has its moments. (How's that for a winning book talk?) No, seriously, I think you might enjoy it (I'm snorting as I write this...) I think I have the award speech on tape, which *is* worth listening to. IMHO. And Bloomability, one of her later books, is one of my recommended to read as per Joke's book related meme.

I didn't think Silent's end was anti-climactic--I was totally blown away. But now that I know (yes, I'm the children's librarian) that the Outcasts is a companion, I'll have to pick that up at work today(you know, when I'm at the desk, recommending books to children to read.)

Reading the description of your dinner with H was...let's just say, I savored it, and was glad I took the time to read it now, so I could take time over it.

and 36? I never pegged you for a day over 29!