Tag Archives: birthday twin

Holiday Cheesecake (or Birthday Twins and Twinkle Lights)

The last few years it has been a tradition for my birthday twin, Joanna, and I to get cheesecake around the holidays. We haven’t always been successful with our timing, but we have been pretty good about at least doing it eventually between our birthday adventures. But this time, I wanted to make sure we were on top of it and I texted Joanna before around Christmas to find out when we could get cheesecake. Somehow, we both ended up being free right before NYE so we made a date for our cheesecake outing.

I was totally looking forward our hangout and then of course it ended up happening right as I was starting to feel my worst. But I wasn’t going to miss this tradition so I took some painkillers and hoped for the best. Fortunately, Joanna is such an amazing friend and understood that I wasn’t feeling so great. So she probably took charge more often in the conversation and I’m so grateful for her for that! We knew that it was going to be crowded and that there would be a wait for a table, but normally when they tell us it will be an hour it’s really just a fraction of that. But this time, we ended up waiting almost 90 minutes for a table. But we were determined to get our cheesecake and figured this just gave us more time to catch up.

We both have been having adventures in online dating so we were sharing stories about that. And she had just been to visit her family so she was updating me on how everyone in her family are doing. It was a pretty chill hangout and catch up but I’m always so grateful that we get to spend this time together. She and I both have weird and sometimes crazy schedules so we don’t get to see each other that often. More often than not, the only times we see each other are for our birthday and for the cheesecake. So we need to maximize each hangout.

Once we finally got a table, we ordered pretty quickly. We’ve both been to Cheesecake Factory enough to know what we want (although the flatbread that Joanna likes was just taken off the menu) and we got to looking at the menu at the cheesecake which was the most important part of the meal to us. I ordered a salad for my dinner and we decided on red velvet and tres leches cheesecake to have. We’ve learned that we can ask the server to split each piece of cheesecake in half, so we each get half of each slice.

Somehow I always have room for dessert even though I was still feeling pretty awful. But I knew I ate too much so we decided to walk around a bit after dinner. All of the Christmas lights were still up at the Grove and it really was beautiful. It was the first time this season that I had seen the lights and I’m glad I didn’t miss my chance to check them out!

We also went to check out the tree, but it’s so big that it’s almost impossible to get a photo of the entire tree!

But we decided that the tree was the perfect background for us to take a photo together!

It wasn’t as crowded by the tree and decorations as it was near dinner, so it was nice to be able to walk around and not feel totally squished. The crowds are the main reason why I rarely go to the Grove, but whenever I go there I’m reminded about how nice it is there and how fun the holiday decorations are. But I think that it will probably be a once a year type of adventure. Plus, most of the stores and restaurants there are places I can go to somewhere else so I’m not always that motivated to drive over there. But it makes a perfect place to meet for our annual cheesecake dinner!

After checking out the decorations, it was time for us to head back to our cars. I really was trying to keep a smile on my face and ignore the pain I was in, but I knew I needed to get home to get some more painkillers in me (I ended up missing a party I was supposed to go to after dinner because I was feeling so horrible). But even though I wasn’t feeling that great, I’m so glad that I went out for cheesecake. It’s an important tradition for us and also it was a nice distraction from how I was feeling!

While I know that Joanna and I have good intentions to try to hang out again before our birthday, I know that there’s a good chance that the next time we will see each other will be for our birthday dinner. But at least we both know that we try to hang out more often and when we do get together we maximize the time that we have!


Birthday Twin Tradition (or An Almost Free Meal)

One of my favorite birthday traditions is going to Truxton’s with my birthday twin Joanna for dinner. We’ve been doing this for pretty much as long as we’ve been friends and it’s always a fun night for us. We try to have more catch up hangouts throughout the year and we’ve been getting better at doing that. But our birthday dinner is something we always look forward to.

We were going to try to do our dinner on our actual birthday again this year, but our schedules didn’t quite work out that way. So we ended up going 2 days before our birthday which was a great way to kick off each of us celebrating our birthday week!

We did a later dinner than normal, but that was fine because parking meters in Santa Monica were free! We both found parking pretty easily and walked over to the restaurant together. Because it was a later dinner, the restaurant wasn’t that packed, but that was nice since it wasn’t horribly noisy either.

When we started going to Truxton’s the birthday deal was a free entrée and free dessert. That made things really simple for us but we also always felt like we didn’t need 2 desserts. Now, the deal is $20 toward the bill. They used to combine the coupons (so we could get $40 total) but now it has to be split onto 2 checks. We decided to try to see if we could make it so when it was split each half would be $20 and we would get our totally free meal again.

We originally wanted to get Monkey Bread as an appetizer (it’s so good there!), but unfortunately they were all out! It was crazy that they were out, but we figured it just wasn’t meant to be. And for our entrees, we both were kind of debating between the same two things: the brisket sandwich and the club sandwich. So we decided that we would order both and would each have half.

It was a bit messy when we tried to cut the sandwiches in half, but it was fine. And it ended up being the perfect thing since we both got to have some of each thing we were craving. We also did one sandwich with garlic fries and one with regular fries so we got to have both options.

And dessert is always the highlight of the meal for us. We decided to go for the giant cookie that has ice cream on top. It’s pretty decadent and seems like one of the more festive desserts they have there.

They brought plates out for us so we could try to split the cookie and ice cream up, but there was no way to really do that. And we are fine sharing a plate so we each grabbed a spoon and pretty much stuck to one half of the pan. And even though we were both full from the sandwiches and fries (it’s probably a good thing we couldn’t get Monkey Bread), somehow we were able to finish the entire dessert!

We really tried to do some planning on what we were going to order to see if there was a way that we could make sure that each half of the bill would be $20 or less. Technically there was a way to do it, but it would have been with the dinners we really weren’t wanting. As much as we want a totally free meal, it’s better to order what we want to eat. And even though we didn’t have our free birthday tradition, it was still a very cheap dinner out.

And even though the bill was super cheap, we like to leave a big tip because we know that servers make most of their income from the tips (we left about $20 on what would have been a $41 bill).

And while the food was awesome, getting to catch up with Joanna was even better! It had been a while since our last catch up meal and we both had so much to share! Joanna has gone on some fun trips and has had some changes in her day jobs. I’ve become a medical miracle and also have had some changes in my day jobs. But I’m lucky because even though it’s been a few months since we had seen each other, when we get together it seems like we can always pick up where we left off.

We ended up hanging out at dinner for about 2 hours before we both had to head back home. The next tradition we have is our cheesecake outing that we do around the new year, but I know that we both are going to keep trying to make an effort to see each other more often (even if it isn’t a free meal that we are meeting up for).


Cheesecake Dinner (or A Half Birthday Outing)

I’ve written about the traditions that my birthday twin, Joanna, and I have been doing for a while. It’s tradition to go to Truxton’s for our birthday and then we started doing Cheesecake Factory around the holidays. But lately, we’ve changed our Cheesecake Factory dinner to be more of a half birthday thing. And since it was just our half birthday, we made an effort to do our dinner close to the right time.

We ended up going this past Monday after I had my screening. Joanna was actually at the screening the week before at my film festival, so she didn’t have to go to this screening. But the timing worked out really well between us to go to dinner after my screening so I was excited to get to discuss the screening with her. I was so nervous going into the screening and still feeling a little bit anxious after, so it was nice to know I would be able to talk it through with a friend to calm me down.

So many times when we go to Cheesecake Factory, it’s so crowded that we have to wait forever for a table. This time, I got there just before Joanna did and our table was ready a few minutes after she got there. For some reason, we always get seated outside on the patio (thank goodness they have heating lamps), and we were seated out there again!

I knew what I was going to order right away. I always get the same salad because it’s delicious! It also isn’t too massive (like many of the items there are) and the calorie count isn’t too bad since it’s on the skinny menu. But it is so good and a nice balance to getting cheesecake so it’s the perfect thing to order. I know that there are recipes to make this at home, but I like having this as something special that I get when I go to Cheesecake Factory.

Over dinner, Joanna and I did a bit of catching up. I had just seen her the week before so there weren’t a ton of new updates in our lives. We did discuss my surgery and Joanna was telling me about some awesome trips that she’s got coming up this year. And we also started to plan what we wanted to do for our birthday this year. We said we should do a combined birthday party since then we don’t have to worry about having parties at the same time. And we have a couple of ideas for what that party could be.

And of course, because politics and current events are unavoidable right now, we did discuss some of that. We pretty much are on the same side with everything, but there are a few things that we aren’t 100% together on. But we are able to have some really amazing and respectful debates and I know that I learn a lot from those. Most of the time, we do agree on everything. But when we get to play devil’s advocate regarding something we disagree on, it’s always interesting.

But as always in our Cheesecake Factory outings, the highlight for us wasn’t necessarily getting to hang out but getting cheesecake! I love getting to hang out with Joanna, but I know we both are thinking about what types of cheesecake we are going to get as soon as we plan our dinner. I learned recently that you can ask your server to cut the slice in half before bringing it to the table, so that made things so much easier for us. We each had a half slice of the red velvet cheesecake and a half slice of tiramisu cheesecake. It’s a lot of cheesecake, but it’s so good and worth being a big splurge!

Neither of us could finish our slices, but we enjoyed every single bite. It’s a treat for both of us and I know we both look forward to our cheesecake outing each year. It’s a good thing that we only do this once a year because it is such a splurge and we both probably go a bit overboard with the food. But it’s something nice that we do and great way for us to celebrate our half birthday!

6 more months to go before my next tradition with my birthday twin when we go out for our free birthday dinner!

Almost Free Birthday Dinner (or Spending My Birthday With My Birthday Twin)

My actual birthday was a pretty low-key day for me. I had to work both of my main day jobs (10 hours total) that day and since it was a weeknight I really didn’t have much planned to do that day. I debated about going to workout that afternoon, but I ended up deciding against it. But I still wanted to do something fun on my birthday and it ended up being the day I went to my free dinner with my birthday twin!

We ended up making this plan about a week ago when I got the email about the free birthday meal. I texted Joanna to ask her when she wanted to go for our dinner, and she asked me when I was free. I knew I was free on the evening of the 9th, so I asked her if there was any chance that she was free too. And by some awesome fate, she had also been looking for something to do that night of her birthday! So we decided that it was meant to be that we had our birthday meal on our birthday!

The birthday deal at Truxton’s has changed in the 7 or so years we’ve had this tradition. It used to be a free entrée and free dessert per person. It was easy to plan what to eat then. Now, it’s $20 toward the meal so we have to plan accordingly so that we make sure we don’t go over the $40 we get (we are so set on making sure our meal is totally free).

Free Birthday Dinner

We got to Truxton’s about the same time and headed inside for our awesome birthday meal. As soon as we sat down, we took out the birthday deal emails so we could give them to the waitress. She didn’t seem too upset that she got the table that was there for a free meal (which is what I’m always afraid of) and she totally understood our desire for a free check because it was our tradition.

After we ordered, Joanna and I opened the birthday cards we got for each other. I was thinking that somehow we might each buy the same card, but we got different ones for each other and both cards were perfect!

Birthday Cards

For our food, we did things a bit differently since we weren’t stuck to just doing 2 entrees and 2 desserts. Like last year, we got the monkey bread to start. It was super delicious and we were both so hungry that I totally forgot to get a picture of it before the plate was empty!

And for our food, we were both torn on what to get. We were debating it back and forth (with me checking the total on my phone to make sure we stayed under $40) and we both were thinking about getting one of the sandwiches that was new to us. Since we both were thinking of getting the same thing, we decided to get a big salad and one of the sandwiches and split everything.


It ended up being so much food that we couldn’t finish so it was a good plan to split things like this. I have a feeling that this might be a part of the new tradition. And of course we had to get dessert. They always have amazing desserts at Truxton’s so anything we got would have been great. But the giant cookie with ice cream on top sounded super tempting and we decided to go for it.

And even though neither Joanna nor I asked them to put candles on the dessert, they did that for us since they knew it was both of our birthdays. That was a nice touch and we both enjoyed it!

Birthday Dessert

And yes, we pretty much finished that entire cookie between the two of us. It was a big splurge, but totally worth it to me.

When we got our bills, we noticed that there was a slight difference than normal. They had to split the checks because there can only be 1 birthday coupon on each bill, and since things were split up it wasn’t totally free. We were under $40, but because of the split we owed under a buck.

Almost Free

While the tradition of the totally free birthday meal didn’t quite happen, we are still super happy with the deal. We got all that food for under a dollar and we still got to feel awesome leaving a giant tip (we left $30 on what was technically a $37 bill).

We sat around allowing ourselves to rest a bit after eating so much food, and then we decided to walk for a bit before we both had to get into our cars. I checked out my phone to see what time it was (I still had a bit more work to finish up after dinner) and I saw that it was 8:09 on 8/9 which was pretty cool.


We walked for a bit and then headed back since Joanna had a bit of a drive and I had to get home to get to work. But it was a super awesome birthday hangout and I’m so happy that I got to spend my real birthday with my birthday twin! That doesn’t usually happen so it’s pretty special.

And of course, we had to discuss what our next crazy birthday twin adventure would be. We will have our usual cheesecake outing, but we are also thinking about doing something for our half birthday (which would be in February). So we might be having another amazing birthday twin celebration on our half birthday which would be so much fun!

There’s still more birthday adventures to come. My birthday party is this weekend so I’ll let you all know how it goes next week. And while I don’t have any other birthday adventures planned yet, the month isn’t over so I might think of some more things!

Very Belated New Years Cheesecake (or A Birthday Twin Dinner)

My birthday twin Joanna and I really do try our best to have our 2 traditions each year. We always do our birthday dinner at Truxton’s together and we have also done a dinner at the Cheesecake Factory around New Years for the past few years. Joanna and I are both busy people, and somehow this year we missed our New Years hangout.

So Joanna and I were finally able to schedule a dinner this past week at the Cheesecake Factory. Because of where we were both working earlier in the day, we went to the one in Sherman Oaks instead of the one at the Grove that we normally go to. But that actually worked out well because my friend Kelly was our server!

Joanna’s been doing some pretty awesome stuff. She just went on a trip to Paris where her parents have a 1/8th share of an apartment. So they invited her to join them and she had an amazing trip! She’s also going to be an aunt soon so we were talking about that.

She wanted to hear all about the Kickstarter for the short film and the short film itself. We both had some crazy actor and audition stories and those are always fun to share as well! It’s just nice that even if we only see each other a couple of times a year, we always pick back up where we left off. And with social media, it does feel like we’ve been in touch more recently than our birthdays last year.

I’ve been working hard at eating better, but obviously I knew that going to the Cheesecake Factory that I would have to be ok with not making all the best choices. I’m glad they have a skinny menu where everything is closer to a reasonable calorie count (600 instead of over 2000 for a meal). I actually really like their skinny salads and since those are about 600 calories it wasn’t the worst choice possible. Joanna got spring rolls and we both were feeling like we had at least tried to eat properly before we indulged in cheesecake.

I think we have both agreed that the red velvet cheesecake is one of the most amazing things out there. It’s a total calorie bomb, but totally worth having it once a year. We have done a couple of other cheesecakes too, but since we’ve had a couple of bad tasting ones we don’t usually stray too far from what we normally order.

But this time we tried to find something new and we asked Kelly for her help. She told us some of the cheesecakes that she likes and that she notices a ton of people order, and we ended up deciding on getting the banana cheesecake and the red velvet one.

Before we split them so we each got half, I got a picture of our insane desserts (since I totally forgot to get a picture of my salad before I dug into it).


Since we each get half of each piece, it’s still the same as eating one giant piece of cheesecake. We both made a good dent in our pieces, but neither of us could finish. It think that the banana one was a good choice to go with the red velvet since the red velvet is so heavy and the banana one reminded us both of a banana creme pie. We have thought about skipping real food and only getting cheesecake, but I think that I really don’t need that much cheesecake and at least I was filled up on a salad instead of a dessert.

After we were done at dinner, Joanna had a coupon for DSW and was going to check out what shoes they had on clearance. I decided to tag along and tried to help her find some really cute shoes. She ended up with some adorable blue suede flats that I’m thinking I might want to try to find in my size too!

After shoe shopping, we were both super full from dinner and knew it was time to say goodbye. It was awesome getting to hang out with Joanna for the evening and since our birthdays aren’t that far from now, I know I’ll get to see her again soon. We’ve said for a while that we want to add a fun fall and spring adventure so we get together more than twice a year. But I’m still just so happy that I’ve got these traditions with her and that even if we are very belated in doing them, we both love these hangouts!

Birthday Twin Dinner (or Zero Dollar Bill)

As I have done for the past couple of birthdays, I joined my birthday twin Joanna at Truxton’s for our completely free birthday meal. We actually did our birthday dinner before our birthdays this year. It worked out well with our schedules, so we went for it.


Usually, the birthday promo is good for one free entrée and one free dessert per person. You don’t have to order anything outside of the free food to get the deal (which is unique and what makes it my favorite birthday deal), so Joanna and I have always gotten an entrée and dessert each and ended up with a zero dollar bill. But this year, they changed their promo. This time you would get $20 of free food per person. This could include entrees, desserts, appetizers, or even drinks. And there was no minimum purchase so we knew that a 100% free bill was possible still. So between the two of us, we had $40 to spend and endless options from the menu.

I had thought long and hard about what I was going to order before going to Truxton’s, but I was still undecided because I wanted to make sure that Joanna and I got a 100% free meal. We had to figure out how much we could each spend on each part of the meal. We did some calculations and figured out exactly what we would have after we figured out the appetizer and dessert we were going to split (yes, those had to be figured out first). And since my entrée was cheaper than what I was able to “spend”, Joanna got some of my extra money for her entrée. I was actually very happy with our food choices. Normally we get the 2 free desserts, but we never need both. But to be able to get an appetizer made me pretty happy.

As always the food was fabulous. We got monkey bread as our appetizer, I got the chicken dinner that I had last year as my entrée, and we got the apple tart for dessert (which we’ve actually never gotten before over the years).

Free Monkey Bread Free Entrees Free Dessert

We had a bit of a snafu when we got our bill at first. It showed that we had a bill for a couple of dollars. After figuring out that we were charged for one incorrect entrée, we got a new bill which showed that we have continued our tradition of a zero dollar bill at Truxton’s. Even though our bill was nothing, we still like to leave a big tip. The waitress we had this year was actually the same waitress that we had last year, and she remembered us as the 100% free birthday girls. The tip that we ended up leaving equal about 50% of what the bill would have been, so I think that’s pretty good.

Zero Dollar Bill

Joanna and I joked about how we need to figure out how to make this work and include drinks as part of our free $40 and Truxton’s money. It may involve not getting much food, but free drinks sounds pretty awesome. We’ve got an entire year before we have our free birthday meal again, and I’m sure will have it figured out by then. Then again, Truxton’s may change their birthday club within the next year and then we’ll have to figure it out all over again.

This was the perfect way to kick off my birthday celebrations (as always there were multiple celebrations). And tomorrow I will share with you all the fun that I had on my actual birthday!

A Full Friend Day (or Cheesecake For Lunch And Drinks For Dinner)

This past Saturday was full of hangouts with my friends. I had my usual morning shift at work, but after that was done, I was off to The Grove to hang out with my birthday twin Joanna!

It was time for our tradition of going to The Cheesecake Factory for cheesecake around the holidays. We knew that we would have to wait until after New Year’s for this hangout, but I was fine with waiting.

While eating at The Cheesecake Factory could be a crazy calorie fest, I had worked out hard during the week and I knew that this meal was going to be the main meal for my day. I got to the restaurant first, so I put our names down and waited for our table. Joanna got there and moments later our table was ready. Good thing because we were both ready to eat!

Because I knew that the cheesecake was going to be extremely high in calories, I ordered my meal off of their low-calorie menu. I chose a salad that was under 600 calories for this entire plate!


It was pretty delicious and I will probably order it again for future cheesecake hangouts.

Then it was time for what we came to The Cheesecake Factory for! The cheesecake! We decided that we would get 2 different cheesecake slices and then each take half of each slice. We decided on red velvet and tiramisu cheesecake.


Neither of us finished our cheesecakes, but they were so rich that I don’t know if there was any way to do that unless we didn’t eat a meal first.

I was so full when we left, but I was so happy!

Then, a few hours later my friend AJ was doing a hangout in downtown LA. I hadn’t seen AJ since Krystle and I saw him in “Heathers” so I was super excited to see him again! The hangout was at the Yard House and it was very chill. There were about 8 of us and it was just a nice relaxing meal. I got a Dirty Shirley and had some dinner (I needed something to eat so I could feel safe to drive after having a drink).

Of course, AJ and I had to get a picture together!


It was so great to see AJ again. He should be back in LA to visit soon and I’m hoping to make it out to New York in the fall.

Overall, my Saturday was the ultimate cheat day (my stomach actually hurt on Sunday from all the delicious food) and the best friend hangout day! Another great start to the new year!

Continuing The Birthday Celebrations (or A Birthday Twin Adventure)

On Friday evening, I got together with my birthday twin Joanna. It had actually been a while since we had seen each other.

But besides wanting to hang out again, we had a birthday tradition to uphold!

It was time for our free birthday meal at Truxton’s!


This might be one of my favorite birthday traditions. Joanna and I have been doing this for years, and both of us look forward to it each year.

Truxton’s really does have one of the best birthday deals around, and it would be a shame if we didn’t take advantage of it.

So when Friday came around, I was ready to have an awesome meal (I had also saved up my calories so I could afford to have a meal like that).

Since we knew that our meal was going to be free, we both ordered without looking at the prices. I got a 1/4 chicken with some garlic fries (and they were super garlicky) and Joanna got the salmon.

While we waited for our food, we spent some time just catching up on each other’s lives. Since we are both actors, we both live pretty crazy lives. We both are always changing things around like our day jobs, representation, or other things like that.

Both of us have had some changes in our lives, so it was nice to have the time to fill each other in on what’s been going on. Since right now we only have 2 annual traditions (birthday and Christmastime) and somehow we never have the time to get together, over dinner we also decided that we are going to add a fall and spring tradition hangout. Right now we only know what we are doing for fall (Disneyland), but we have some time to plan out spring.

After dinner, we ordered our free desserts. We always get this one ice cream dessert that comes with churros so we only had to decide on the second dessert. We opted for a giant freshly baked cookie.

We each had 1/2 of each dessert, and I have to say that saving my calories (and working out like crazy at Orangetheory) was totally worth this splurge. It was so yummy!

When the bill came, we had a bit of a laugh at the difference between what Joanna’s meal would have cost versus my meal.


Thank goodness it was all free! And since it was free, we were able to leave a nice tip (we left $30).

All in all, it was an awesome evening out. Not only was it a free meal, it was a meal with a good friend who I don’t see nearly often enough!

I’ve still got a few more birthday deals that I’m planning on taking advantage of, but my birthday month is going to be over before I know it!

Cheesecake With My Birthday Twin (or Continuing A New Tradition)

In 2012 around Christmas time, my birthday twin Joanna and I went out for cheesecake. We decided then that we would make Christmas time cheesecake one of our new traditions (like us getting our free birthday meal).

Somehow, we both totally forgot that we said that this would be a new tradition until after Christmas. I texted Joanna to see how we could fix this, and she suggested that we get cheesecake right after New Year’s (it could still be considered holiday cheesecake then).

I was super lucky to have the day after New Year’s Day off so that ended up being our cheesecake day.

We went back to The Grove where we had cheesecake last time. But this time it was in the daytime so there were no holiday lights. And there were people taking down all the Christmas decorations so I didn’t take any pictures (you don’t want to see a tree coming down, do you?).

We got lunch and cheesecake this time. Since I’ve been working on being good with my calories, I looked at the low-calorie options that Cheesecake Factory had. Most of their regular dishes have about 1,000 calories in them and I couldn’t do that plus my cheesecake.

I’m normally not a fan of the low-calorie menus, but I have to say that this one was actually pretty good! Joanna and I both ended up ordering off of it. Joanna had a salad and I had a sausage and cheese flatbread (which was 460 calories if you were interested).


Then it was time for the main event (at least what we both considered the main event). While I would have loved to have gotten the red velvet cheesecake again, my calorie budget did not allow for that. So I checked on MyFitnessPal to see which cheesecakes that I like fit into my calorie budget (it helped that I didn’t have time to eat breakfast that day so I had some extra calories to play with). I ended up getting one of my all-time favorite cheesecakes, the tiramisu cheesecake.


Joanna got the plain cheesecake with strawberry topping on top.


It was a great meal! And of course, any time I get to hang out with my friend Joanna is awesome (we don’t see each other as often as we used to). We had a fun chat discussing our day jobs, acting, and just having a catchup talk.

I’m so glad that I have this new tradition continuing. Hopefully this year we will remember to do it around Christmas time so we can see all the awesome decorations again.