A Weekend of Birthday Fun

I had the greatest weekend. I got to celebrate Noah’s BIRTHDAY!! We had a full weekend of activities. First, we had a couple friends over for Shabbat dinner and games on Friday.

Homemade challah and a pear/blueberry tart:

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Saturday was Noah’s actual birthday, so we had birthday cake!!:

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I got an ice-cream cake from J.P. Licks (Noah’s and my favorite ice cream place!) and hid it in the freezer before Noah’s birthday. This card served as the perfect intro…

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…and then Noah knew just where to look because we’ve talked about wanting a J.P. Licks ice cream cake for a long time. 🙂

That night, we went out to dinner at Picco – a pizza and homemade ice cream place in the South End. They don’t take reservations for parties of less than 5 people, and when we got there it was a two hour wait for a table! Luckily, we were able to get spots at the bar after waiting only a few minutes.

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We ordered a pizza (with sauteed onions, garlic, mushrooms, and gruyere) and a calzone (with peppers, mushrooms, and spinach) to share:

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And since it was a celebration…a brownie sundae with homemade peanut butter chip and caramel swirl ice cream was in order:

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Wow wow wow – so good!

Sunday was the main birthday activity (yes, Noah’s birthday lasted all weekend). Noah and I have really enjoyed having succulents in our apartments in Jerusalem and Cambridge, and I discovered an activity called Plant Nite. It’s like the paint and wine nights that are becoming popular…except instead of making a picture, you make a terrarium with succulents! I seriously couldn’t believe this activity was a real thing, but I was really excited when I saw it because I thought we would have a lot of fun.

The event was held at a bar/restaurant in Boston. When we walked in, all the tables in the Plant Nite area were equipped with terrarium bowls and green tablecloths:

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We found a two-person table and snagged it right away because we only like talking to each other (joking…sort of). Excited to start:

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We made “winter wonderland” terrariums – which are like regular terrariums except with more sand art. Hard at work:

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Once the sand art was done, we could layer some soil in the pots (succulents have very shallow roots so you don’t need much soil):

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The final touch was accessorizing with rocks, moss, and figurines:

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Mine included an ironic rock:

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Plant Nite was a lot of fun, although I will say that the dudes in Boston really need to step it up because Noah was one of the only guys at this event!

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The final activity as part of the birthday celebration that I’ll mention is a game of X-wing that incorporated one of Noah’s birthday presents:

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Noah has really been enjoying X-wing lately. X-wing is a game that involves flying Star Wars ships, dodging meteors and trying to blow up the other person’s ships. As you can tell, the sophistication of my understanding of the game is still a little surface level – but I enjoy playing with Noah! I got him the play mat pictured above for his birthday since without it he needs to measure the appropriate amount of space to play on out every time. Let the games begin…

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Free Birthday Fitness

Great things about having a birthday:

1. People you haven’t talked to in years will write on your facebook wall to wish you well

2. People you talk to regularly will do something nice to reinforce your mutual affection for one another

3. FREE STUFF

Lots of restaurants give you a free dessert (and haven’t we all misused this perk to surprise an unsuspecting friend on their non-birthday…or just to get a free dessert? nope…just me?), a lovely sandwich shop in Northfield, MN will give you a free hoagie sandwich, and right here in Minneapolis you get the gift of fitness. Gym rats, yogis, and cross fit addicts everywhere know that fitness doesn’t come cheap. Just a few examples…

Cross Fit monthly membership: $170

Yoga Studio Monthly membership: $120

Pilates/Barre Monthly membership: $160

So, the birthday gift of free fitness is really a gift. Instead of paying $38 for drop-in class rates, I received a free class at Corepower Yoga and a free class at Allign Pilatesjust for being born.

I’ll take it! Naturally, I knew right away the only Corepower class I could even consider was sculpt.

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Corepower sculpt, I love you. If only our relationship depended on more than money…

At Allign Pilates, I took a barre class. Holy cow, this was a tough class! Although I wasn’t quite as fatigued as after a sculpt session at corepower, the exercises at a barre class are more unique and make me feel like I’m using totally new muscles (or at least using them a lot more than I’m used to). If your legs don’t shake at a barre class..hats off to you!

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And, since I can’t justify doing another birthday post more than a week after my birthday, the last b-day related pics are from a lovely dinner with friends. Featured dishes: cheese and crackers, sauteed summer squash, and rosemary flatbread from Smitten Kitchen (topped with caramelized onions and blue cheese).

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Ricotta Vegetable Bake

Today was a wonderful morning. In recognition of the anniversary of my birth, my roommate left a fabulous surprise for me on the kitchen table:

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Not one, not two, but three herb plants! I’ve been doing a lot of cooking lately, and now I will have fresh basil, parsley, and rosemary to use. This was such a great gift – thanks, roomie!

Unfortunately I didn’t have these spices last night when I made an Italian style ricotta-vegetable bake. It goes like this…

Saute one onion in a skillet:

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Add two yellow summer squash and one large zucchini:

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Add 1/3 cup tomato sauce and liberal shakings of basil and oregano:

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In a 2 quart casserole pan, add a thick layer of reduced-fat ricotta cheese:

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and then layer with mixed greens and slightly more than half of the squash/zucchini/tomato mixture:

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Add a layer of cooked barley and the rest of the ricotta cheese (I used a 15oz container):

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Bake at 350° for 35 minutes:

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This should make about 4 servings – basically it’s lasagna without the noodles!