Sunday, November 8, 2009

Phipps Conservatory & Birthday Dinner #2

Many moons ago, on a similarly warm and sunny early November weekend, a baby girl was born 3-4 weeks early and weighing just 4 pounds. She also was born with an omphalocele. She was immediately whisked away from her mom and rushed to Children's Hospital where she spent the first month of her life. That baby girl is me, and today is my birthday.

For those first few weeks, doctor weren't sure I'd survive. They told my parents that if I had been born a year earlier, I would have died. I was born before ultrasounds were so widely used and so the doctor didn't know ahead of time about the omphalocele. But I survived, and here it is, time for another birthday!

I've been having a 'birthday weekend.' I don't make a big deal out of my birthday, shouting it from rooftops to anyone who will listen, but SP & I do like to use our birthdays as reasons to have all fun/no chore weekends. It's even better when the birthday is actually on the weekend.This morning, we had birthday cake for breakfast. This wasn't my idea (surprisingly!). SP has Type 1 Diabetes and his glucose monitor was beeping the beeps that mean 'you're low go eat!' So he thought it would be a good idea to get his blood sugar back up by having birthday cake! Delicious, chocolate cake with chocolate mousse in between the layers and iced with Bethel Bakery's buttercream icing - yum!!!

Before getting to yesterday's fun activities, let's pause a moment for some birthday presents, since they're food related! Googer gave me a yogurt maker and yogurt cookbook:As soon as we have some time, we'll be trying our hand at making yogurt.

Despite me telling him that a nice dinner out and the cake were enough, SP gave me Peach Schnappes & Limoncello:

These are for the citrus-y martinis he makes me! They're always a bit different, but always combinations of citrus liquor and fresh squeezed lemon and/or orange and/or lime. I'll be trying out these goodies before tomorrow's Steelers game! And these are for both of us, not just me!

Yesterday, we spent the afternoon at Phipps Conservatory. It was a gorgeous, warm, sunny day, and while we weren't outside, we were in this beautiful Victorian greenhouse. We last visited Phipps 2 years ago for the stunning Chihuly glass exhibit. This time there was an equally impressive Frabel glass exhibit. I can't express enough what a lovely afternoon date it was with SP. It was much less crowded than last time. I took 100+ photos - here are just a few:I had a difficult time picking just 6 photos. I can't even pick a favorite part of the exhibit. The glass flowers are gorgeous. The glass frogs & lizards and wonderfully whimsical and bring a smile to my face. The Longfellows are fascinating alien like figures. The clowns remind me of Cirque du Soleil. There's so many more photos: the glass masks, the huge glass boxes, the glass snowflakes dangling from the ceiling, the glass sprites & fairies - the whole exhibit was so beautiful. This is definitely worth seeing.

After enjoying Phipps, we headed over to the South Side Works and browsed through Sur La Table before going to The Cheesecake Factory (CF), which is where I picked for my birthday dinner with SP's family. In October, when she was here, my mom treated SP & I to a very nice dinner for my birthday, so that was birthday dinner #1 (from my parents). This was dinner #2 (birthday dinner present from SP's family).

Why CF? Well, they have a very diverse menu, so I was sure there would be healthy options for Googer, basic burgers or chicken options for ZSO, everything from sandwiches and salads up to larger meals, and I like the tiramisu cheesecake! When SP & I put our name in at 4:30 pm, they told us the wait would be an hour!!!!

We were planning on meeting at 5 pm, and happily, at 5:05 pm, our buzzer buzzed and we were seated. I ordered the passion fruit iced tea. To start, SP & I shared the Crispy Fried Cheese & Crispy Crab Cakes (a daily special small plate/snack). Both were quite tasty, priced from $4-$5, and not too large. Sometimes fried cheese appetizer is so large that you end up too full for dinner! The marina for the cheese was just OK, a little watery, but I don't usually dip my cheese anyway. The crab cakes had a tartar/mayo type dipping sauce.SP's dad and Z shared an order of Crispy Crab Wontons. In other words, crab rangoon. I tried one of those, too, and they were tasty. Deep fried, cream cheese & crab - how you not like them?!

My dinner choice was the usual: Grilled Shrimp & Bacon Club and I chose salad for my side. It was its usual delicious and unhealthy monstrous sized self. This photo is from today when I ate the leftover half sandwich for lunch.SP chose Fresh Fish Tacos, his usual. I just asked him what he thought of them: "Yummy." He said they were a little spicier than he remembers, but he likes spicy.

SP's dad chose Crispy Spicy Beef. He said it was indeed spicy, that I would not want to even try a tiny bite because of the spice, and it was tasty.

Googer had Vietnamese Shrimp Summer Rolls (an appetizer) and edamame for dinner. ZSO had a burger & fries and Z had Chicken Marsala & Mushrooms. Sadly, Slarb and Slarb's SO couldn't make it to dinner.

For dessert, Z & ZSO shared Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake while SP & I shared the Tiramisu Cheesecake. When I say shared, I mean that SP ate the huge dollop of whipped cream and I ate the cheesecake!

I know it's a chain restaurant, and I know the wait is always ridiculous, but CF is definitely one of my favorite, maybe my favorite, chain places!

When we got home, we made tea and settled on the couch and watched GI Joe: Rise of Cobra. Totally mindless. Totally senseless. And I don't like Sienna Miller 'Pittsburgh is **ittsburgh' but it was entertaining and made us laugh! As a serious movie, we'd give it 1 out of 5 stars. As mindless summer fun, 3 out of 5. So we gave it a 2 at Netflix!

So far, a lovely birthday weekend! This evening is my other present from SP: dinner out (birthday dinner #3!), just the 2 of us, at one of the Big Burrito restaurants.


  1. I think I love Cheesecake!

    Happy Birthday!

  2. Happy belated birthday!
    That looks like a really fun date night - I've never seen a glass exhibit, but Paul seems to be interested in them. Maybe we'll get around to Phipps sometime soon.
    And that Bethel cake looks TDF (to die for). I've never had a Bethel cake, but I've heard great things. Yum Yum is right!