Birthday highlights

My birthday was several weeks ago, but with the holiday rush I never got a chance to blog about it.  The week before Christmas was a crazy one – after my last class of teaching, I had a whole Advent-worth of things to do before leaving for home.  Christmas shopping was almost done, but Christmas crafts had to be completed and Christmas cards hadn’t been started.  I think I made, wrote, stuffed, addressed, and stamped all my cards in a day. It was quite a feat and not one I’d like to do again.

Even though it was amidst the rush of teaching, my birthday was a lovely time spent with friends, from beginning to end.  And even class was celebratory — the deacons sang Happy Birthday to me not once, but twice (the day before my birthday and then the next week when they gave me a birthday cake.)

On the actual day I went to breakfast with my friend Mary, got a phone call from my nieces and nephew (who apparently are too old to sing to me like they used to), and then completed my annual birthday novena of Holy Communions by going to Mass with the lovely Dominican priest who has recently joined the ranks of our tight-night community at work.

Father says a private Latin Novus Ordo Mass in the mornings, and I attend when my work load allows me to take a break mid-morning.  I was kneeling in the pew as Father set up, and he stopped by before going to the sacristy to vest.  “This one’s for you,” he said with a smile, before going on his way.

Can’t beat that.

Before going to Mass, I had unlocked my office to find this:

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The work of my office assistant and my Advent Angel.  This picture doesn’t do it justice — my phone and computer were wrapped with paper, there was silver tinsel draped all over my desk, and the balloons dotted the floor.  There were little presents tucked throughout the mess too. : )  Fortuitously, the son of the Dean of Arts & Sciences was visiting his dad for the day… so not only did I have a little shadow for the day, I also had a helper.

“Will, let’s see if we can collect all the streamers in a big pile…”

“Will, do you think we could fill this bag with tinsel!?  Let’s see how much tinsel we [read: you] can pick up!”

The gang at work (I work in the best building on campus, and we have an awesome community) had a little party with muffins and coffee, but then it was back to work.  I didn’t get a whole lot of work done, though — between Will and then my friend Liza bringing her newborn in while she finished some things up, it was a regular party most of the day.  Complete with stray balloons from my office littering the hallways.  At one point Will told his dad, “This is the best day ever.”  We had to break it to him that every day at work wasn’t quite like this one.

Liza had the grand idea to go to the Grilled Cheeserie for lunch (which is what we did last year too!) so we headed downtown to celebrate.  Not only was the Grilled Cheeserie delicious (as usual) and the company grand, the backdrop was pleasant — when you don’t work in a city environment, there’s something special about going downtown and enjoying the atmosphere.  We sat in Public Square Park, which is overlooked by City Hall and various businesses.

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I had the Harvest Melt, which was Triple Cream Brie, pulled turkey, roasted butternut squash, and pumpkin seed pesto on multigrain bread.  Deeelish.

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After work (Will did petition his dad to work late so he could hang out with us more… but we assured him we were all leaving), three of my friends joined me for dinner and drinks at City House in Germantown.

The restaurant could easily be passed by on the street, looking like just another house in the neighborhood that is slowly seeing a recovery through its adoption by yuppies.  Inside, it was a bustling place despite the relatively early hour.  They have a rotating menu, priding themselves on seasonal and farm-fresh offerings.  I chose the fettuccine with sweet potato, garlic, lemon, and walnut bread crumbs, along with one of their artisan cocktails. Everyone’s selections looked delicious — the pizzas, the fish, the greens… The City House is definitely going on my list of places to return to soon.

We finished our meal with a shared dessert – chocolate peanut pie with orange mascarpone gelato and honey caramel.  It seems an odd combination, perhaps, but I’ve learned to trust restaurants to match up flavors I wouldn’t.  It was awesome.

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While the gelato’s consistency was a bit firmer than gelato and more like ice cream, its texture was incredible.

After dinner, Mary and I headed out to see The Hobbit.  While the movie was a bit disappointing (I had my hopes too high), the movie of my life had a cameo appearance by a cast member from a previous season!  My dear friend Megan came to spend the weekend with me!

So birthday celebrations extended throughout the weekend — a laid-back Saturday morning, an Italian lunch, decorating the apartment for Christmas, drinks at the Patterson House, and a lovely brunch after Gaudete Sunday Mass (one of my favorite Sundays of the year).

While Megan can’t top the present of her presence, she also brought me the perfect little espresso cups … exactly like the espresso cups used at Cafffe Camerino in Rome for their cafffe completo!

IMG_2687The only sadness is that I still haven’t figured out how to replicate the cafffe completo, so drinking out of these just makes me want to go back to Rome.

All in all, a perfectly wonderful birthday.

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