Last time I chimed in here I was going from hostess-mode to party-mode as I prepared to jump into my own birthday waters.
I love off year birthdays; there’s no need to remind those around me it’s my birthday (enough are already aware that I don’t feel the need to shout it from the rafters) and the lack of a rounded off number means I can skip the heavy lifting of self-reflection say, a 50 and just go with the flow.
Birthdays to me are a time to really enjoy the details of a day well-planned and in some part solitary; to me nothing feels more luxurious than at least one meal enjoyed singularly, quietly, indulgently.
So right after my last post, I hopped over to Hat Yai for lunch.
I ordered a bowl of beef cheeks in an amazingly rich curry with that crispy, crunchy roti bread alongside.
I’d had the curry with a chicken thigh before but the beef came so highly recommended I was powerless to say no. It was so incredibly rich and satisfying, but next time I am going to have to return with my whole family and order the whole fried chicken. The table next to me ordered it and it was all I could do but to keep a respectable distance.
Next time, grasshopper.
I left lunch to enjoy a phenomenal hour massage from a woman named Jaime. I’ve been to her for a couple years, and I was grateful that my Dad had arranged this for me ahead of time (if you live locally and need a good masseuse, contact me for the details).
Massages on birthdays are an especially nice treat.
All day people kept showing up with gifts or leaving items on my doorstep.
A gorgeous flower arrangement.
Little Big Burger fries, their special sauce and a candle.
And chocolates and daffodils and books and so much more.
Look at all these spectacular and thoughtful things dropped off or mailed to me.
I’m so lucky to have such an amazing coterie of friends.
But wait, my family had more in store for me.
I was given tulips and games and cards and a bevy of birthday beauties.
A new Fitbit, a lovely book, a French knife, cool new headphones and Essie polish. Heaven!
After opening up some cards, we headed over to Afuri, a new place I’d been hearing raves about.
I gather Afuri is a well-known series of casual eateries in Japan but they picked Portland for their first-ever spot outside their home country; not only did it seem like a friendly environment for this type of food but the drinking water here is the one that most closely approximates the water back in Japan and so they thought that the restaurant with its ramen making and broth creation would be a natural here.
We ate grandly — ordering a bit of almost everything on the menu– sushi, items from the grill, appetizers and four bowls of ramen.
Strangely enough, for a place known for their ramen we found that the soup wasn’t the most appealing part of the menu.
Rather, the apps delighted us more than anything else.
There was so much to choose between.
First you should opt for the addictively crunchy Chicken Karaage.
Or the gyoza (pricy at $10 but a sizable portion and so crispy and succulent).
We liked the sushi rolls, too.
What a fun night — and I insisted we top off our evening
with my first ever-Shamrock Shake (from McDonald’s) and a Chance the Rapper sing-a-long. Win win!
Lest you think my birthday was the end of the shenanigans around here, I’m here to tell you’re not even close.
We still had St. Patrick’s Day to celebrate.
I’d bought these vintage plates when my Dad had been here and I just had to make something worthy enough of breaking through their protective seal, so I hit my baker’s notebook for old favorites.
You see, when you’re born with the surname of Kennedy and you have a massive sweet tooth, you can’t let St. Patty’s Day pass without spreading a little magic (even if treats were purely unauthentic with only the color green or mint as a lazy reference to the day).
I started off with a Butterscotch Blondie ( a variation on this recipe with the swap of butterscotch chips and more chocolate).
Who doesn’t love a one-bowl recipe?
Or a cute dish towel found at the Goodwill Outletbins and costing roughly a dime (despite never having been used)?
This recipe takes just minutes to pull together, uses basic ingredients and doesn’t even start with room temperature butter. You just melt it and a couple additions later it’s going into the oven.
If you fill it with butterscotch chips, chocolate chunks and top with green M & M’s, this is what it looks like hot out of the oven.
And to sweeten the pot, I also made Chocolate Brownies with Andes Mints.
I added peppermint oil to the brownies to up the minty action, and they were moist and delicious.
When they came out of the oven, I placed an unwrapped Andes chocolate every few inches and they wilted ever so slightly atop the warm pan.
Before I ate every last one myself I had to wrap them up– for teachers, neighbors, friends, and the gardening group that had descended upon our backyard to do some spring clean-up.
It was so enjoyable dropping them off around the neighborhood and spreading a little of St. Patrick’s Day cheer.
So all in all a great birthday and a wonderful weekend.
And with the sun out today I feel like I can finally dare to dream.
Isn’t this sudden sun break just delicious?