Another Year (and a lot of tangents)

Alessandro and I celebrated our birthdays last month, him turning 32 and me 30. I have wanted to be 30 for as long as I can remember. I always thought 30 was such a respectable age. I figured by then I would be into my career, I would live in a home I loved, I would have a husband if I wanted one (I used to never want one as I could never picture liking someone that much), and I would start considering whether I wanted kids (I have always known they are so much work). 

Thirty has not been disappointing so far. I feel extremely fulfilled in my career and I look forward to working with my clients for many years to come. It feels good to have a job where I can make a human being feel like a human being and treat them accordingly. I have a husband who I really like (who knew!) and who is a downright good person. We have been married for a little over 4 years and have been living in our first home together since that time. We have loved our apartment over the years, the kids love it, and we have many memories here. We are going to be looking for a new place this year, so I look forward to seeing where that takes us. All is falling into place. 

Back to our shared birthday week. It's really fun (and romantic) sharing a birthday week with your spouse. Some friends of ours who are a couple also have their birthdays during the same week as us! So between us all, we have birthdays on 9/1, 9/2, 9/5 and 9/7. It's very special. And my sister and her husband have birthdays later in September, just 3 days apart from one another. Al's brother and his wife are one week and two days apart. Any other spouses out there who share a bday week? 

As for our birthday celebrations, it all began at midnight on Al's birthday when I laid all of his presents out in our room for him to see before going to bed. I am not a patient gift giver and could not wait until morning. 

I bought him a couple of hoodies and basketball shorts from Old Navy, a cool neck warmer, which he has become obsessed with and uses more as a hood/mouth warmer because he is weird and always cold these days, and beard balm made here in Corktown, (directions as listed on their website: Step 1. Stop Shaving. Step 2. Apply Beard Balm. Step 3. Awesome Beard). Easy enough. 

I finished it off with these crocs. He was skeptical (as you may be), but I tried to tell him that I have never steered us wrong and to trust me. Turns out they have been a lifesaver on days when his feet are too swollen to get into his much cooler Saucony's. Function over fashion for the win. 

On his birthday morning, we had the best pancakes known to man at The Original Pancake House in Grosse Pointe. He had the Georgia pecan pancakes and I had banana pancakes with tropical syrup. Tropical. Our breakfast was delectable and we could not stop saying, "Oh my gosh, this is so good." Thank goodness it is hard to get a seat at T.O.P.H. or we would be there every day. His birthday was on a weekday and I took the week off (the best gift he got, he says) so we were able to walk right in on this day. 

And since Alessandro is spoiled, I made him one of his favorite foods for dinner--mussels. (He ate mussels the night he propsed, by the way). Of course they had to be accompanied by my favorite food, french fries. Some fancy people may call that pairing moules et frites. 

I used this recipe to make red coconut curry mussels and this recipe from the same wonderful food blog to make herb salted garlic parmesan double fried french fries. I do not enjoy mussels at all. This was my first time making them, and I discovered that I also do not like prepping mussels for cooking. Removing "beards" is not something you should have to do for food. But double-frying is something you should have to do, which made the french fries out of this world good. The herb salt was genius.

His birthday cake was an America's Test Kitchen carrot cake and it was pretty fabulous. 

For my birthday, Alessandro bought me a beautiful necklace from Rebel Nell, a philanthropic-type company that creates unique jewelry from Detroit-raw material. As better explained on their website:  
Rebel Nell was started with the sole purpose of employing, educating and empowering disadvantaged women in Detroit. We make jewelry from unique local materials, while providing a transitional opportunity for women in Detroit.  Our goal is to help these women move from a life of dependence to one of self-reliance, overcoming barriers to employment through the fruits of their own labor.  Working directly with local homeless shelters, we identify women who are ready to make this transition to a new phase in their lives.

Rebel Nell’s product line starts by repurposing graffiti, an abundant local resource here in the Motor City.  We collect this graffiti after it has already fallen off of walls.  Initially these scraps of graffiti look a little rough on the surface, just like many people’s first impression of Detroit.  However, after we take it through our process, we’re able to reveal all the beautiful layers that make up the graffiti, just like the intricate layers that make up our city.  After some hard work and TLC, the women of Rebel Nell turn that scrap of graffiti into a unique piece of wearable art. 

Our primary goal at Rebel Nell is to restore the confidence in the women we hire.  In addition to on the job training, we provide financial management, life wellness and business education to help them successfully transition to an independent life. 
I accidentally found the package in the mail a few days before my birthday, so I got my present early. (You can kind of see the necklace in the photos below). (Sidenote: A few days before our wedding I was doing laundry and found a receipt in his pants for a necklace. That's the story of how I got that necklace early too. There's a theme here). 

On the day of my birthday, I had a sporadic and last minute brunch with a few friends at The Zenith, but the company was much better than the food or service. 

Two pro tips for waitstaff and other service workers: (1) Don't be curt about inquiring whether a person in a scooter/wheelchair can get out of their chair by offhandedly asking, "Does he need to stay in that chair?" If someone can get out of their chair, they or their party will probably let you know during the whole "party of 4" conversation. and (2) If you are going to ask such a question, please direct the question to the person in the chair who can hear you talking about him and who can probably answer for himself. Something like, "Hello, sir. Just to make sure you are as comfortable as possible today, I wanted to confirm that you will be dining in your scooter, or would you like a chair?"  

This also reminded me of a comment we got when we went to see Book of Mormon at the Detroit Opera House. We arrived about 5 minutes before showtime and handed our tickets to the usher who said, "Uh, there are too many handicap people here. We are running out of places to put all of you." We did not have time to be offended though, because seconds later we were being whisked off to the pit where we ended up sitting in the best seats we could have ever imagined. #handicapperks (That's the first time I have ever used a hashtag and I stole that one from Alessandro. It was not even my original idea. So, #hashtagfail). 

Back to friends...

Later on in the afternoon, my mom picked me up when she got off of work and we had a margarita and a botana at Los Galanes in Mexican Town.  

They have the best botanas in my opinion. (No, a botana is not the same thing as nachos as much as you people want to say it is. It is very different. There are like 5 ingredients in all Mexican dishes--tortillas, cheese, beans, salsa, meat. Different preparations of these dishes create totally different dishes. A chicken taco is not the same thing as a chicken enchilada even though they both consist of a tortilla, cheese, chicken and salsa. Also not the same thing as a chicken flauta although, you guessed it--tortilla, cheese, chicken and salsa. Also not the same thing as a tostada, although same ingredients. Get it?)

I am so glad we are all on the same page now. 

My birthday ended perfectly--a quiet Tiger game with my boo. 

I would also like to give a shout-out to my friend Danielle. I mentioned to her that I wanted a makeup lesson as I believe basic makeup knowledge to be crucial to a woman in her thirties, and I still do not know the difference between concealer, foundation, bb cream, cc cream, etc. (Is there one?) And as thoughtful as she was, she remembered and bought me a  gift certificate to a make-up lesson with Russ Simon. Russ is in charge of maintaining Danielle and my eyebrows, and what a feat that is on my end! He works miracles. I am looking forward to gaining some of his knowledge. Get ready--I'm going to be glamour-shot ready all the time now! (Remember those? Did you ever get one? Me and my sisters did not, but our childhood friend and her mom did and we may or may not have been jealous of them at the time. Not now though). 

We are so lucky to have each other, such great friends, and to continue on in this wonderful life another year older. My next age milestone is 60 where I suspect I will know about 50% of life's lessons at that point and where I will be the person that I am and will always be.   

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