Monday, July 2, 2012

The Big Huge Birthday Blog

My grand birthday week officially ended yesterday afternoon when my last houseguest went back home. I tried to thoroughly document my celebrations (in whatever form they took) so I have quite a few photos from the week, but here are the highlights :)

Festivities began Tuesday evening when my friend Shirlee arrived from Meritt Island. I had been wanting to visit the Cinebistro nearby (dinner and a movie) but it's ridiculously pricey (well, for me) so I had to wait for the proper occasion...meaning my birthday. There were very few options as to movies playing, so we settled on Snow White and the Huntsmen (enjoyable, cliche, nothing fantastic).

We had 15 minutes to kill before the doors opened to our movie so we waited at the bar and shared a drink (Yes, shared. We are ladies on a budget). The drink? A Little Fockertini: bailey’s, kahlua, goldschlager and cream. I somehow overlooked the 'goldschlager' part when we ordered. After several sips it was kind of unbearable to drink so I gave the rest to Shirlee. Then, being the ever-so-graceful creature that I am, knocked over the glass and spilled it all over the floor. Ta-da!

We had the ENTIRE upper theater to ourselves and our friendly server joked that Shirlee had planned it all and rented out the theater just for us. Sadly, our private party was busted by the giant crowd of two that showed up to sit in the lower level. 

The next morning we headed to First Watch for a fantastic breakfast (even their coffee was good!) then drove to the Henry B. Plant Museum located in the old Tampa Bay Motel, now used by the University of Tampa. 

The building, opened in 1891, is a jumble of several styles of architecture, yet still manages to be beautiful.

Only one half of the bottom floor has been preserved as a museum, so it consists of a long hallway with rooms full of displayed furniture, art, and informational plaques.

A summary of what we did while there:

Nonstop laughing

Making faces in mirrors

Walking in semi-close relation to each other while balancing our audio tours on one side of our head and simultaneously taking pictures of e v e r y t h i n g.

The old ballroom wasn't part of the museum so we "snuck" over to the university side of the building and found the door unlocked. Except for the absolutely monstrous live cockroach that Shirlee found on the curtains, the room was very impressive.

After more than three hours we found ourselves ready to move onto our next stop: an Irish pub! More specifically, MacDinton's. Unbeknownst to us, there was some big soccer game on tv that afternoon and the inside of the bar was jam packed, as well as the outdoor bar areas. We managed to find one of the few tables left on the outskirts of the patio.

Service was agonizingly slow and the tv's earsplittingly loud, but we had talked about going to an Irish pub together for years so it was fun all the same. We decided on fish 'n chips and bangers and mash, then thought "Why not go all out and split an appetizer?". Then we found out appetizers were buy one get one free.

We ended up with an astonishing amount of food.

This was my first time eating chicken wings. They were fantastic and I got full devouring half the basket. However, I did NOT like my bangers (yep, I laughed typing that) but the mash and peas were yummy, though the site of cascading gravy over half the plate made me want to vomit.

After all that food we had only three and a half hours before our dinner plans. We had no idea how we would get hungry in that short amount of time and thought some speed walking around Hyde Park might help.

"Speed walking" actually turned into browsing at Anthropologie then sitting on a bench for 10 minutes trying to decided what to do next. This was my view.

We were both exhausted from barely sleeping (Oliver slept between us on my king size bed, but he had been sick and was up most of the night, meaning we were running on only a few hours of sleep) and decided on a visit to Barnes & Nobles. We ended up sitting quietly and reading for a few hours (her - The Hobbit, me - The Fault in Our Stars). In was unbelievably rejuvenating and by the time we had to change for dinner, my appetite was slowly creeping back.

At 7:30 we arrived at Ella's for dinner with these two handsome gentlemen, my good friend Keith and his partner Lance. Keith had recommended this restaurant for the evening and it was spot-on the kind of place I like to visit. Very artsy and eclectic with fresh and creative dishes.

Lance ordered the pan fried polenta appetizer to share. It was gloriously rich polenta topped with herbed cheese and served on a little pool of tomato sauce. Think...savory warm cheesecake. It was incredible.

I decided to sit back and enjoy myself, meaning I got very few pictures the rest of the night. 

After dinner, Lance went back home while Keith joined us for drinks at Zoya in Ybor. It was very dark, beautifully decorated, and while actually a hookah lounge, surprisingly quiet and non-smokey. It was the perfect atmosphere for sitting back and talking over drinks.

The cocktails are hand mixed and expensive, but 2 for 1 until 10:30. I loved the Caspian Cooler with vodka, club soda, orange, and a basil-infused simple syrup. I also had to try It Ain't Easy Being Green: gin, grapefruit juice, and watercress. Both were light and dangerously refreshing.

We could have called it a night there, but Keith asked if we'd like to check out the nightclub called Czar next door. While not my usual cup of tea, it was very fun to be there with two of my very best friends and carelessly dance for several hours. 

(It was also enjoyable to observe all the social interactions from an anthropological viewpoint. While taking a break from dancing, Shirlee and I just sat back and watched)

Then we danced some more :)

I have no pictures for the next day, also known as "The Day of Recovery and A Doctor Who Marathon". I had a horrible headache (not from a hangover but from the smoke at Czar - everyone had lit cigarettes and we danced next to the huge smoke machine for hours) so we spent the day watching Netflix.

I convinced Shirlee to stay one more night, and then instead of sending her off at 7am, made breakfast and continued to play Doctor Who episodes and kept her here until late morning. Ah, my evil ways.

I was expecting my friend Corey to arrive in several hours, but we drove to BJ's (who named that store?) and met up with Jess and the kids for a quick shopping trip.

Addison and Oliver are two peas in a pod. Or as Addison recalled it: "We're two pickles".

And once again, I tried to persuade my mom that she and dad need this poolside tiki bar.

I spent the next few hours running errands and making food for fun girly time with Corey. By the time she arrived we were ready with mimosas and finger foods.

Thankfully, Oliver went to bed like a dream so Corey and I went downtown to the Tampa Theatre (after a very brief 30 minute stop at Zoya to revisit the Caspian Cooler). I had been counting down the days until Wes Anderson's newest movie, Moonrise Kingdom, would be released here and was thrilled it was on a day I could take a friend with me.

This was by far the most charming theater I have ever visited. Faux European architecture, red curtains AND an organ player.

The big huge downsides: really uncomfortable seats and a sound system so old and muffled, we (and everyone nearby, judging by the complaining) could barely make out what was being said on screen.

So it's hard for me to judge if I was waiting for the movie to be over because it wasn't very good, or because I was really annoyed with the environment and just wanted to visit the Taco Bus down the street. I definitely enjoyed some of the humor in the movie, but I don't know if anything will ever top The Royal Tenenbaums in my book.

And as soon as the credits rolled, we hightailed it a few blocks to get those tacos. 

Saturday was very lazy and quiet in the best way possible. We spent almost the entire day playing with watercolors, then swam in the pool while mom brought mimosas on a silver tray (this was by far the most drinking I have done in one week since I was a newly-turned 21. I'm more of a glass-of-wine-once-or-twice-a-week kind of gal)

Oliver joined in on art day with washable markers that tend to end up more on his hands and the top of his head than the paper, but he loves it.

Corey painted some fantastic whales, birds, and an anatomical heart.

I worked on just this one piece that is still unfinished 
(though much more work has been done since this picture)

Sunday was spent drinking coffee while making a disaster of a breakfast (grain-free apple slices that are supposed to be like pancakes = NO), working on painting some more, then sending Corey on her way back to Orlando.

And there you have it. My very special week. 

My favorite thing about my birthday this year was definitely the time I was able to spend with old friends that I've just been able to really reconnect with in the past year, and the quality conversations with such genuine and caring people. I'm so blessed to have such good friends that made the time to make my birthday memorable.

Happy birthday to me :)

P.S. A big thank you to my mom who watched Oliver for so much of the week so I could go out and celebrate!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You look incredibly happy and it looks like you had a well-deserved birthday week (I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks a birthday celebration should last all week)!