If you know me, you know I'm big into celebrating. You just got a job interview? Awesome, let me bake you cupcakes. Your hair looks great today? Awesome, let me write you a congratulatory award. You cleaned your whole apartment? Let's bake a cake. I truly just enjoy celebrating people and joyous moments, from the big to the small. So, naturally, when it comes to birthdays, I go big and I go meaningful.
Friday was my fiance's birthday. He has a deep, burning love for Chocolate Chip Cookies, but I very rarely bake them, because I seriously dislike following actual recipes and cookies have to be done exactly right. But, on his birthday, I of course had to oblige his longstanding request and surprise him with delicious Chocolate Chip Cookies. Because I was working from home all day, I was able to pop some delish cookies in the oven as I got my work done. I was totally out of butter, and my fiance had our car out in the burbs for a work meeting, so I did a little googling and ended up using this recipe for chocolate chip cookies using coconut oil.
I randomly put together a few birthday decorations using some bottles hanging around, some straws, paper, and streamers. While I'm a "go big" person, my fiance tends to appreciate simple and understated, so I had to keep his preferences in mind.
That said, he did not escape without streamers. I hung these over the doorway from the back door, where I knew he'd come in since he had the car (we have a garage out back - yes, in the city - we lucked out).
When he got home, I lit candles in the cookies and a few extra candles that I scattered around the table and sang him a little birthday song. He probably felt like a 5 year old. To be honest, I think we all deserve to feel like that. :)
After some cookie munching, we hopped in the car to head to his office, which is just a few minutes away, where his birthday gifts had been delivered to. He opened a new watch and pair of shoes.
On our way home, we were just sinking in the beautiful city views, as the gentle early evening sun lit the buildings up. Suddenly, we both really wanted to be outside. So, we dropped off the car and headed over to dinner in Wicker Park a bit early. Instead of taking a cab, we walked. It took us about 30 minutes to get there, and the temperature was perfect.
We had dinner at Justin's favorite pub, Mac's American Pub. This place is really special to us, because it was where we went on our first impromptu date, and we always thoroughly enjoy our time there. My fiance had a burger and I ordered one of Mac's Chicken Salads.
As dinner was wrapping up, I asked him where else he wanted to go on his birthday. Anything you want to try? I was kind of hinting at FroYo at first... but then he had a much better idea. We'd been to The Violet Hour many times, but only with other couples or groups. We'd never been just us. So, we walked over and got in line outside. After just a few minutes, the "bouncer," so to speak, came out and grabbed us from the back of the line. I have no idea why he did this - it was almost as though he just knew it was Justin's birthday - but whatever, we'll take it! Inside, we were seated by the fireplace. I started with the "Hunter Gatherer," and my fiance had an Old Fashioned.
The next morning, my fiance woke up with a hankering for The Breakfast Club. You thought birthdays were only one day? Hah. Not when you're in my family. You get the whole freaking weekend. So, off to The Breakfast Club we walked.
We were completely unadventurous and got our normal grub. My fiance ordered the Meat Lover's Skillet, and I ordered an Egg White Omelet with Spinach, Onion, Bacon, Feta, and Tomato Slices on the side.
Back at home, we relaxed for a while and got ready for a bike ride. I was in the mood for a Spin class, but my fiance was on a "roll," and suggested we just hit the road. Pun intended.
We biked over to the Lake Shore Path and headed north along the lake. At first, we thought it might be a bit cold near the lake, but it ended up being pretty much perfect.
Once we turned around, instead of taking the lake path south, we headed into the city and made our way back home from there. It's both exciting and somewhat terrifying to bike through the city, but I'm slowly getting the hang of it. Obviously, I survived. (No, I didn't. I'm writing this from the grave. April fools!)
At home, I quickly showered and got ready, because we had some exciting plans. I actually got fancy and blew my hair dry, which happens about once a month, so it's always a momentous occasion. Holy smokes, my hurr is long.
I popped some Kashi pizzas in the oven and whipped together some serious guacamole. Our neighbors came over so we could all stuff our faces and then we hopped in a cab and headed to Union Station for Beer Fest. Yep, that food was all for a good cause: lining our stomachs.
Once inside, we began the long and delicious process of sampling beers. There were probably 50 breweries (at least, it felt that way) from all around the Midwest.
We were in search of the next greatest Midwest brew, and ya know what? We found it. My favorite, by far, was by a brewery called Anderson's, and it was an Amber Ale, which is not usually my thing. It was just so smooth and delicious, I couldn't not go back for more.
Eventually, we all decided we'd had enough beer, so we headed to Grandview Tavern for some food. Everyone had burgers, but I was still so full from the combination of pizza/guac/tons of beer that I opted for a side salad and a cup of the soup of the day. Both were... just okay.
On Sunday morning, we decided to head up to the suburbs to spend Easter with my family. It takes about 45-60 minutes to get there, so we always have an enjoyable mini road trip en route. It tends to involve me taking more than a few selfies. #oops
After an amazing church service at The Chapel, we headed home for some Easter grub. My mother had put together a delicious but still fairly light (I mean that in a good way) meal of pineapple ham, sweet potatoes, asparagus, and strawberries.
Post-lunch, we followed another tradition in my family: Hippity Hop. Ever since we were kids, my dad would hide our Easter baskets and then write a poem or riddle for us to use as a guide to find the baskets. This year, the Easter Bunny went techie and wrote our poems on an iPad. Wow, Easter Bunny. Santa's really got to catch up and ditch his paper lists.
Above is a picture of my sister and her "Hippity Hop" poem. When it was my turn, the Easter Bunny had written a poem for my fiance and I to share. We found our Easter basket in one of the fireplaces in the house. See it down there?
Once Easter festivities wound down and I was far too full on candy, we headed home to good old Chicago for some errands and R&R. We grocery shopped, cleaned, and did laundry... and I made a pretty darn delicious quiche for breakfasts this week. Let's file that one under #winning and #reaganing.
We went on a long walk around the city before bed. We were gone for a little over an hour, and I got a few sprints in there with the pup (every time there was a long stretch of sidewalk or a bridge to run up and over, I sprinted it with the dog and then turned around and sprinted back to my fiance, who wasn't wearing proper running shoes).
Toward the end of our walk, when we were headed back, we ran into this really precious message written in graffiti. It says, "ONE DAY YOU'LL LIVE FOREVER." Especially on Easter Sunday, it was such a poignant reminder that Christ died and rose again to GIVE US that gift, that we can live forever because of exactly what Easter is meant to honor. Just another special moment in which God stepped in and showed us something awesome.
- How does your family do "birthdays?" Any special traditions?
My family has always made a big deal by decorating and hanging streamers, etc. We're dorks.
- Does your family do any special things for Easter?
Hippity Hop! And too much candy, as usual...
Thanks for showing your face in such surprising ways. Like graffiti in front of a dumpster. Just like Jesus hung out with riff raff, you're willing to show your face among it too.