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:

IMG_8909 IMG_8911

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

IMG_8912 IMG_8913

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…

FullSizeRender

…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.

IMG_8914

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

IMG_8916 IMG_8915

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

IMG_8917

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:

IMG_8920 IMG_8918

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:

IMG_8919 IMG_8921

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

IMG_8923

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):

IMG_8924 IMG_8925 IMG_8926

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

IMG_8928 IMG_8927

Mine included an ironic rock:

IMG_8931

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!

IMG_8932

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:

IMG_8935

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…

IMG_8936 IMG_8937

Advertisements

Spotted this week in Jerusalem

SPOTTED – a child flailing about and running around on the sidewalk while parents shop at a nearby store:

IMG_5054

There is something both befuddling and normalizing about noticing the apparent unconcern of Israeli parents for their childrens’ exploration of the world. Run around alone on the sidewalk? Sure! Climb that huge fence to play at the locked basketball court with no adults nearby? No problem! Talk to strangers in the park? Go for it! Maybe there’s here for the hyper-worried-borderline-paranoid industry of helicopter parenting to learn. Trust people. Everything will be fine. 

SPOTTED – a gorgeous sunset seen looking out from one of the windows of the Pardes Beit Midrash:

IMG_5053

Give me a beautiful pink and orange sunset sinking over Jerusalem before cozying up with the Rashi commentary on the parashat hashavua (weekly Torah portion) any day. 🙂

SPOTTED – signs of a psychic, mysterious force in the universe that snuck this business card into my backpack without my knowledge only to be discovered who-knows-how-long later during a mid-morning slump:

IMG_5052

WHERE DID THAT COME FROM AND HOW DOES IT KNOW ME SO WELL?

In other news…this was a big week in my apartment. A much anticipated arrival came…

IMG_5055photo 3 (24)photo 1 (29)

Noah ordered a couple board games from the US about a month ago and has been awaiting their arrival with great anticipation. FINALLY, they arrived yesterday. Pictured above is “Conflict of Heroes: Awakening the Bear.” Before this game’s arrival, Noah told me that part of the game’s appeal was that it is relatively easy to explain to and be learned by new players. Perfect for me!

Little did I know that in serious hex-based war games, “relatively easy to explain” means that it comes with a 20 page instruction booklet that is an 7 pt. font. Luckily, Noah was there to help explain:

IMG_5060 IMG_5058 IMG_5057

Pumped for play:

IMG_5061

I lost (shocking), and Noah has spent time today working on strategy by playing himself (spoiler alert: he won), so I don’t anticipate my win percentage is going to increase by much in the coming weeks. But, there’s always hope!

Lentil Salad

A couple weeks ago, I made a lentil salad to bring to a potluck. The dish was SUPER easy to make and turned out delicious! *full recipe below

To start, I chopped one onion and sautéed it in a little bit of coconut oil until it started to brown:

IMG_4938

Next, I added 1 cup of brown lentils, 3 cups water, and 2 chopped carrots:

IMG_4939

After stirring around, I added in 1 tsp each of rosemary and thyme:

IMG_4940

I let everything simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 40 minutes until all of the liquid was gone:

IMG_4941IMG_4942

Once finished, I let the lentils cool on the stove for about half an hour before transferring to the refrigerator and serving cold the next day. This recipe required very little active time and tasted great at the next day’s lunch!

Lentil Salad
 serves 10 as a side dish
 Ingredients
 - 1 onion
 - 2 carrots
 - 1 cup lentils
 - 3 cups water
 - 1 tsp. thyme
 - 1 tsp. rosemary
 Method
 - chop onion and saute in saucepan with coconut oil or
 other oil of your choice until starting to brown
 - add lentils, water, and chopped carrots
 - stir and then add thyme and rosemary
 - simmer for 30-45 minutes, or until water is gone
 - serve hot or cold

In other news…

Noah and I recently enjoyed a brief visit to a toy store we found near Hadar Mall in Talpiot. The exterior of the store drew our attention, so we peeked inside to see what it was all about:

IMG_4943 IMG_4944

SPOTTED: an Israeli version of a minecraft building set:

IMG_4945

That looked fun, but princess puzzles are more my sort of game:

IMG_4948

And finally, a big highlight from my week…

receiving a ‘Shanah Tovah’ (literally ‘good year,’ said as a greeting around Rosh Hashanah) chocolate with my Aroma coffee:

IMG_4981

There is something so completely lovable to me about the visibility and commercialization of Jewish holidays in Israel. I guess sometimes it’s nice to not be in the minority. 🙂

Chatterbox Pub

What a weekend! Sunday was the Jewish holiday of Purim, so the weekend was full of festivities. Saturday night was the megillah reading and shpiel, and Sunday there was a Purim Carnival. Lots of fun and lots of running around led to lots of exhaustion and a hungry belly. On Sunday afternoon, Noah and I went to The Chatterbox Pub to rejuvenate.

photo 2(7)

Although there during happy hour, we didn’t partake in any drinks (besides water), but we did order some food. Highlight being…

photo 1(10)

SWEET POTATO FRIES! Given that sweet potatoes are among my favorite foods (quite likely THE favorite), eating them sliced and fried is always a sure winner with me. These fries were just the type I like – not too thin to lose the ‘body,’ but still crisp. They were served with a cinnamon honey mustard (dip container at the bottom of the pic) which was really good – hardly mustard tasting at all. The staff was also very friendly and accommodating. In fact, the above fries were actually free since they accidentally burned Noah’s pizza and we had to wait while they made another.

As you might suspect, the truth is that countless establishments around Minneapolis have good sweet potato fries. Why Chatterbox then? Because they have something on their menu that no where else does:

photo 3(7) photo 4(4)

GAMES! I am lover of board games, and Noah is a lover of video games. So, clearly, this place was a win-win. While we waited for the food, we perused the board games collection:

photo 5(4)

We selected Othello. I had never played, and Noah had only played a few times, so we reviewed the rules and went for it. The game is played with black and white discs, and the objective is to end the game with more of your color discs on the board than your opponent. It starts like this:

photo 1(9)

This is what it looks like after Noah makes a big mistake (I am white):

photo 4(5)

This is what it looks like when I end up losing in the end anyway:

photo 2(9)

If that didn’t make sense to you, look up the rules online because I don’t understand them well enough to articulate in a blog post. 🙂 As the game was ending, our food arrived. I got the ‘South by Southwest’ sandwich which was chicken breast, black bean spread, cheddar cheese, guacamole, roasted onions and peppers, and cilantro pesto on focaccia. Actually, the sandwich came on ciabatta, but I swapped the bread.

photo 2(8) photo 3(8)

The sandwich was tasty, but definitely a heavy meal – not a ‘light’ lunch sandwich – and not something I am rushing back to get again. Noah got a cheese and chicken pizza which he liked but was also a bit much:

photo 5(5)

Of course, we Noah couldn’t leave without testing at least one video game, so he visited Q*bert on our way out.

photo 3(9)

He was very focused…total concentration even when I tried my best to distract…

photo 4(6)

It paid off though since Noah received the 4th highest score after only playing it a few times! Congrats, Noah – you are famous!!!

Overall verdict for Chatterbox: The environment is really fun and unique and the sweet potato fries are top notch, but otherwise the food is nothing amazing. I would say that this is a good spot if you’re looking for a fun date location, but if you want quality food and a nicer meal, put your money elsewhere.

Small Surprises

Don’t you love it when you walk into the bathroom and find something like this on the mirror?

photo(110)

Seriously made my day.

all smiles

all smiles

This random act of kindness must have given me some positive vibes, because afterwards I put up an impressive showing at the pool table (if I say so myself).

photo(109)

Here is Noah shooting his first shot of the game:

photo(107)

And his second:

photo(106)

Notice a difference in the playing field? Why yes, that is because I knocked in five balls IN A ROW. That has literally never happened to me before. Never.

And what’s a game of pool without a couple of hot drinks to enjoy it with?

ahhh

mocha for Noah, green tea for me