Tag Archives: dinner

Overdue Happy Hour (or Trying A Neighborhood Restaurant)

I remember when I was little and hearing how adults felt like time went by so fast. I never understood it then since it seemed like each day would take forever (especially when it was a standardized testing day at school). But now it totally makes sense to me. Sometimes it feels like something wasn’t that long ago when it really was a few months ago. That’s what happened with my hangouts with my friend Rayshell.

We have been making an effort for a while to try to get together for happy hour every month every other month. We both have busy lives that seem to be on opposite schedules, so if we don’t make an effort to hang out a lot of time can slip by. Rayshell was recently on a trip and I had told her than when she got back we had to do a happy hour. But I didn’t realize then that the last time I had seen Rayshell was back in November! So much has changed in both of our lives since then so we quickly got to scheduling a time to meet for dinner.

We try to alternate if we meet on her side of town or my side of town, and Rayshell decided that it was her turn to come to my neighborhood (plus, her job is kind of toward where I live). I was trying to figure out a good place for us to meet that had a fun happy hour menu and I thought of Public School 310. I’ve been to Public School before, but only to the location in the valley. It’s weird that I hadn’t been to the one near me before since it’s walking distance from my house. But somehow it just never happened. So this happy hour seemed like the perfect time to check it out!

Rayshell and I love a good happy hour menu, and this one seemed pretty amazing to us! The drinks were super cheap, but since I can’t drink right now I had to skip that. But Rayshell got a $5 beer that was huge! And we decided to each get one of the little plates and then split something too. I got the meatballs and we split the hummus.

The food was really good and it was all a great deal! Between the beer and the 3 plates, our dinner was under $25! That’s really cheap, even for happy hour! And with this being so close to my house I feel silly that I hadn’t been there before. It’s totally going on my list of great places in my neighborhood.

Besides having great food, it was great conversation. Like I said, it had been a while since I had seen Rayshell. We see each other’s posts on Facebook and text from time to time, so we were a bit caught up on each other’s lives. But it’s very different to catch up in person than it is online. And as we caught up, we both realized how much stuff had happened since we saw each other back in November!

Rayshell was telling me all about her trip, but she has also been working out at Orangetheory! She doesn’t work out at the same location as me since there is a location walking distance from her house (I’m jealous since I have to drive almost an hour home in rush hour traffic from the studio I go to). But she’s been going twice a week for a while so we wanted to talk workout stuff. I love that I have so many friends who work out so we can all talk about our workout wins and totally understand what the other person is talking about.

And even though Rayshell knows about my surgery next month, she wanted to hear about what was happening and what the plan is. I’m sure that hearing that I have a big tumor that will be taken out can be overwhelming for my friends. I don’t feel too worried about it because I’m not in pain and I feel very confident in my surgeon. But since nobody else knows that I’m not in pain and nobody else has met my surgeon, I can see why other people are worried about me. But I do want to make sure all of my friends know that I’m totally ok with everything that is happening so I’m more than happy to explain it all to them.

I also had to update Rayshell about getting a new car! It’s still a bit weird to me that I have a new car, but it is feeling more and more like mine and not like a rental or a temporary car. It helped a lot that I now have my personalized plates on it. I’ve had those plates on every car I’ve ever had and it makes it feel more like mine and not someone else’s. And it is really nice having a car that doesn’t have a bunch of things that I need to fix or that doesn’t want to play my podcasts from my phone. My old car was fine, but this one feels like such an upgrade. And while I wasn’t actively looking for a new car before, I know Rayshell knew all the issues I had with the old car so I think she’s pretty happy for me that I have something that works and doesn’t need thousands of dollars in repairs.

Our happy hour was pretty short because Rayshell had to deal with traffic to get home, but it was the perfect quick catchup for us. I know that she is hoping to come visit me when I’m in the hospital or when I’m recovering with my parents, so I’ll be seeing her again soon. And even though I might be in pain when we hang out then, I know that Rayshell is going to do what she can to make that still a fun hangout and feel like one of our regular happy hour adventures.

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!

Disneyland Adjacent (or Downtown Disney)

This past weekend was a bit of a weird one for me. I ended up being in a bad mood on Sunday (for reasons I’m not sure about) and was planning on spending most of the day moping around and feeling a bit sorry for myself. But my plans changed when my friend Michelle texted me to see if I wanted to go to Disneyland for a few hours that evening!

I’m always down to go to Disneyland and even if we could only spend a few hours there I knew it would make my day amazing! I got my stuff together and got into the car to drive to Michelle’s house. But on the drive to her house, she called me to let me know that our passes were blacked out because of the holiday weekend (since we both have Mondays off we sometimes forget about 3 day weekends). We thought about going to Universal Studios instead, but we were blacked out there too.

I got to Michelle’s house and we were trying to figure out what to do. We both wanted to go do something and were torn on figuring out what to do. Finally, we decided that we should go to Disneyland anyway but instead of going to the parks we would get some dinner at Downtown Disney and try to watch the fireworks from between the parks (so we don’t have to pay to get in). And since there is 4 hours free parking at Downtown Disney (a long as you get dinner), we wouldn’t have to pay to park!

We headed down and got to Downtown Disney pretty quickly. We headed over to Tortilla Joe’s (which I love!) and put our names on the list. It was going to be over an hour for a table, but we had time to kill before the fireworks and were happy to walk around Downtown Disney do shop. There are so many things that I would love to buy, I just don’t have the money for it. But it’s always fun to look and there are some ideas of things I want to put on my wish list for the future and maybe to put on a list for my birthday.

We were done window shopping and it was finally time for us to get dinner. As much as I want to drink alcohol right now (and my surgeon said I could as long as I didn’t drink too much), I’m trying to be good and not drink. I really wanted a margarita, but I had to settle for a virgin strawberry one.

It wasn’t as good as a real margarita, but it was a nice change from just drinking water and made dinner feel a bit more special. And as always, the food there was awesome. Michelle and I might have eaten too many chips because we were both so hungry for dinner, but the chips were really good! And I had a tostada salad that I’ve had before there and it was the perfect dinner for me.

And besides just having a good dinner, it was so nice to get out of the house. I’m usually such a planner and having a spur of the moment adventure was a great way to get out of a rut. Plus, Michelle and I wanted to work on planning our next Disney day (which will be in a few weeks) so hanging out at dinner was nice.

After we were done with dinner, we walked over to the esplanade between Disneyland and California Adventure so we could watch the fireworks. I’ve watched the fireworks from there before so I knew while it was a slightly obstructed view it would still be fun. It was a bit weird to be at Disneyland but not to be at Disneyland, but it was still nice to feel like we there that night. We thought about taking a funny photo at the gates of the park trying to reach through, but we ended up just doing a selfie by the gates and were very happy with how our photo turned out (not bad for the selfie camera on my iPhone!).

We were waiting around and knew it was about the time that fireworks were going to start, but nothing was happening. We checked the website to see if we got the fireworks time wrong, but then we just thought that maybe they were a bit delayed. Since we weren’t in the park and couldn’t hear the announcements, we weren’t exactly sure what was happening. But about 10 minutes after the fireworks should have started, someone who was just inside the park walked by and said that the fireworks were cancelled that night.

It’s a bit sad when the fireworks were cancelled, but I understand why they have to do it. Sometimes it’s super windy higher up where the fireworks go and they can’t have the show happening with the wind like that. Or the clouds are too low and they know that nobody will be able to see much. I’m glad that someone told us all because we probably would have waited out there a bit longer to see what was going to happen.

So after that, we walked back to the car and made the drive back to LA. Even though we didn’t get to go into the park or see the fireworks, it was still a fun Disney adventure. It was the perfect thing to do when I needed something to boost my mood. I felt so much better being out at Downtown Disney than I would have if I stayed home. I got a nice dinner with an awesome friend, and I got a lot of walking in that I probably wouldn’t have done.

It really helped to make my Sunday a great day and I’m so glad that Michelle texted me to go on yet another adventure with her!

Another Grove Adventure (or Dinner And Not A Screening)

I rarely go to the Grove, so the fact that I went last week was unique enough. But the fact that I went back this week is totally crazy! But since it is the time that I get a lot of invitations to screenings, there is always a chance I’ll be back there. Most of the screenings I go to are at the Director’s Guild or other screening rooms, but from time to time the screenings are at regular movie theaters.

This week, I had been invited to a screening of “Sing” at the Grove. I RSVPed right away, but because it wasn’t a screening hosted by an organization that I’m a part of they said that they overbook and seating will be first come first served. I invited my friend Dani to come with me and since we both had that afternoon free we decided to meet up for dinner before the screening.

The screening was at 7:30 and we figured we should try to line up an hour or so early (that’s what I usually do), so we met for dinner at the Grove at 5. We ended up going to the Cheesecake Factory since it is next to the theater and were seated on the balcony. They have heating lamps out there so it wasn’t too cold, and I liked having the view of all the lights from our table.

We had a nice dinner and discussed lots of random stuff. Some of it was about our tickets for Pantages (it was at dinner that we realized our next show was on Oscar Sunday so we started to work on figuring out when to move our tickets to). And of course since she is my workout buddy we discussed Orangetheory. It’s always nice to be able to get together with a friend for dinner and I’m glad we had some time to hang out that wasn’t before a show or on the treadmills during class.

We enjoyed our dinner of salads and cheesecake (you can’t go to Cheesecake Factory without getting cheesecake!) and then headed to the theater next door to line up. The line wasn’t too full so I figured getting there when we did worked out pretty well. Dani has never joined me for a screening, so she was excited to go to one with me. And close to 7pm, the line started to move and we were getting excited to get inside.

But as we were almost at the front of the line, someone from the studio came over to say that the screening was at capacity and that there were no more seats. This is something I know can happen at screenings, but it’s never really happened to me. Turns out, the line that we saw when we got in line was only part of the line. They had been letting people inside the theater for almost an hour by the time we got there because some people were lining up 2 or 3 hours before the screening.

While I was sad that we didn’t get in, it wasn’t horrible. I do want to see “Sing”, but I’m sure I’ll have other opportunities to see it. I know I’m so lucky that I get to go to as many screenings as I do (movies are so expensive!) so I’m not going to be upset that I missed one of them. There were so many kids in line who didn’t get to see the movie and I feel so bad that they didn’t get in.

Since we no longer had a screening to go to, Dani and I decided to walk around the Grove a bit. The Christmas decorations were just as pretty as they were the week before, but it was so much more crowded there!

We decided to wander around Barnes and Noble where I found some new books I wanted to add to my library wish list plus some books that I want to buy as gifts for people next year. It was funny walking around a bookstore since I haven’t really done that in a while. And there were some sections in the bookstore where there were so many books in a row that I have read! I know I read a ton, but since they are usually on my Kindle I don’t think too much about the number of books I get through.

It was nice getting to window shop in a bunch of different stores and see the various holiday decorations that the stores have, but the crowds at the Grove were starting to get a bit overwhelming. It was tough to walk around without having to stop because there were too many people in front of us. So we decided it was time to leave there before the crowds got even worse.

Even though my plans that night were to get dinner and see a movie with a friend, it was just as nice to get dinner and window shop. Taking time to just walk around and check out what is happening isn’t something I do all the time, so it was a nice change of pace from what I’m used to.

Hocus Pocus (or Musical #3 For The Week!)

Even though I saw “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” twice in a week, I still had one more musical to go for the week! A month or so ago, I saw that there was going to be a musical parody of “Hocus Pocus”. It was being performed at the Rockwell, and I had loved when I saw the show there before. My friends Dani and Michelle were both interested and we picked the first date that we could get tickets.

hocus-pocus

We didn’t think about the show being the week after our first show for Pantages, so it was pretty funny when we realized it was going to be a musical filled week. But it ended up being a really perfect situation and I’m so glad that we did it!

Last time I was at the Rockwell, we got tickets through a ticket reseller so we didn’t get to pick our seats. This time, we did have a choice and we found seats at a table right next to the runway going through the middle of the room. We figured we’d have a perfect view of the show and were so excited to have amazing seats.

When we got there, we were the first ones seated at our table. Shortly after sitting down, the other group seated at our table sat down and we made a bit of small talk. It’s pretty hard not to talk when you are all squished together. The other group we were sitting with were really nice and they had some friends involved in the show and the venue so we were meeting quite a few people there. And we ended up finding out that the woman sitting right next to me is Ariana Grande’ mom! That was pretty awesome and we thought it was just a funny LA type of night.

When the show started, we really didn’t know what we were in for but we had heard the show was great! And great didn’t even begin to explain it! This show was probably one of the best things I’ve ever seen in my life! The performers were all insanely talented and this show was so funny that we were all laughing so hard we were crying.

the-show

We were expecting there to be songs that were created just for this musical parody, but they ended up using lots of popular songs. I’m glad they did that because the music was recognizable and it really made everything that much funnier. Each song they used was perfect and I wish there was a soundtrack to buy because I would totally listen to it over and over!

the-witches

One of the fun things about being at a show at the Rockwell is it is a dinner theater venue. We ordered an appetizer to share, we each got an entrée, and then we split a dessert. Dani and Michelle ordered drinks, but I just stuck with water. We tried to get our bill when the show had the intermission (we didn’t want to be stuck trying to pay at the end of the show), and the waiter said that it was already paid for. It turns out that Ariana Grande’s mom decided to pay for our meals and drinks! It was so unexpected and we couldn’t thank her enough. I wish there was something more we could have done to thank her because it really was so nice for her to do that!

At the end of the show, we said goodbye to the other group seated at our table (and thanked Ms. Grande again several more times) and headed back to the car to drive home. All 3 of us could not stop talking about how much fun the night was and how we wished the show was going to have a lot more shows so we could possibly go again (the show is closing this weekend if anyone is trying to go). We really lucked out in getting these tickets and hearing about this show, and we’ve discovered there are several more shows coming up at the Rockwell that we are hoping to go to in the near future.

Magic Castle Fun (or Girls Night Out)

I’ve been fortunate to be able to go to Magic Castle twice in the past. It’s a really fun place to go to and since you need to be invited it’s not something that everyone gets to do. I don’t know members, so it’s not something that I can be invited to that often. But through a friend of a friend, I was able to get an invite to Magic Castle and I organized another girls night out there!

I had a great group of friends with me when we went this past week. In that group, I had my friend Shey (my Evil Twin), my workout buddy Dani, and my friend Camber who I met through my WIF mentoring group. Shey also invited her roommate and one of her roller derby friends to round out the group. I think it was a really great group and we were all so excited to be at Magic Castle.

red-carpet

The rules are that you cannot take photos beyond the lobby, but the entire place was decorated for Halloween and I totally loved that! The only photo of the decorations I could get was in the lobby, but you can see the fun stuff that they put out to celebrate.

magic-castle

We arrived at Magic Castle a bit before our dinner reservations, but they opened the dining area a bit earlier than expected so we were able to get in for dinner pretty quickly. And it turns out that our server was a friend of Shey, so that was fun! The dinner that they serve is pretty delicious and I was excited to have a nice splurge meal. I didn’t drink any alcohol (I wanted to save the money and calories for food), but I didn’t miss drinking at all. For my dinner, I had a steak (and it was cooked perfectly!) and I got some banana pie for dessert. It was a bit more food than I’m used to, but it was really good and I was glad that I didn’t try to restrict my food too much!

All of us had a great dinner and we enjoyed discussing tons of random stuff over dinner. Considering that most of the people in the group didn’t know each other before that night, it was awesome to see everyone get along so well. You never know when you create group outings like this if things will go well, so I’m so grateful that it turned out perfectly!

After dinner, it was time to see the main stage show (we get tickets to guarantee seats with our dinner). We got there a bit close to showtime, but we found 3 seats in one row and 3 seats right behind it toward the front of the room. We were off to the side, but we had a great view and the tricks that the magicians did were pretty incredible! I knew how a few of them were done because of a show I’ve seen on how to do magic, but there were so many tricks that I couldn’t figure out how they were done!

After the main stage show, our next stop was the close up magic room. We ended up being in the front row for the show so we were super close to everything happening. Usually the close up room is my favorite, but the magician that we watched seemed to be a bit nervous and their hands were shaking really hard. It started to make me nervous, but he was still able to do some great tricks and everything was impressive.

Our next stop was to try to see the last stage show at Magic Castle, but we missed the show we were hoping to see. We figured we’d wait an hour to see the next showtime and were trying to figure out what to do. All of a sudden, a man at the bar asked us what we were doing and we said we didn’t know. He responded that we were his audience for the show he was about to do. There was a card table near the bar where we all sat down and he did a bunch of different tricks.

He was so impressive! The fact that he didn’t have time to prepare since he just found us while he was eating at the bar was amazing. And the tricks blew all of our minds! We kept trying to figure out what was happening or how he could do it, but none of us could figure out anything! I’m so glad he was willing to put on a show for us because it ended up being the best show of the night!

We made it to the last stage show after our private show, and that was really fun too. There were some great rope magic tricks as well as some disappearing money ones. And the magician was very animated and kept everyone’s attention even though it was close to midnight on a weekday when we were at the show.

By then, we were all pretty tired (we had been there for over 6 hours) and most of us had to work the next morning. So it was time to say goodnight and for all of us to head home.

This was just a really great night out with my friends and I’m so lucky that I was able to get to Magic Castle again. I’m hoping that I might be able to get another pass at some point next year because there were a lot of friends who wanted to come but couldn’t due to scheduling. I’d love to have a chance to share this amazing place with more people soon!

An Overdue Friend Hangout (or A Medical Discussion Dinner)

There have been some friends that I haven’t gotten to see in a while. It’s a lot of issues with scheduling with all of our crazy schedules, but also time flies by and we forget how long it’s been. So when a friend of mine invited me to dinner recently and I realized it had been months since we had seen each other, I said yes right away!

This friend is someone who I used to see pretty much every week, but our schedules haven’t been matching up lately. She also had some medical things to deal with that prevented her from doing too much stuff. But we’ve stayed in touch through texting so when we got together, it felt like almost no time had passed!

We went out for Mexican food and I was a little nervous about it. I’ve been doing really well with my food lately and I didn’t want to eat too much or something that I shouldn’t (there was also another dinner coming up that I knew would be a splurge). Fortunately, neither of us cared to eat chips and salsa, so we didn’t get any for our table. Not having the chips in front of me made me feel a bit better about things since I didn’t have to stare at them or try to figure out if I should eat some. And I ordered fajitas, so I felt pretty confident that I made a good food choice and started to relax more.

Once we had ordered our food, our conversation became all about medical stuff. I was telling her about my MRI, and she shared all the stuff that she went through recently. She found out that she has the BRCA mutation (the breast cancer gene) and went through some stuff to make sure she stayed healthy. She had a double mastectomy and then reconstruction. I hadn’t seen her since her surgeries, and it was great to see her (also she looked amazing!). I’m not sharing her name because I don’t want to share her story for her, but she knows who she is and I’m so grateful that she is my friend.

She has been so open about everything that she has done so far and has always been more than happy to support me and share advice and tips. When I knew I’d be getting my MRI, she was one of the first people I contacted for advice and to find out anything I should be prepared for. She told me it wasn’t that big of a deal and let me know that I’d be fine. When she’s done additional genetic testing, she let me know so I could see if my mom did that testing. She’s not afraid to tell the truth about what she’s going through and I really appreciate that honesty.

I’m curious if anyone at the tables near us at dinner could hear our conversation. We were talking about a ton of medical stuff like surgeries, IV issues, scars, and other things that most people wouldn’t usually discuss. I’m totally used to it since growing up I heard lots of medical stuff over dinner when my parents were talking. I love that I have a friend who is able to be as chill about talking medical things over food as I am.

We did discuss other stuff besides cancer and medical stuff like my workouts at Orangetheory, other mutual friends of ours that neither of us have seen in a while, and random comments about the people watching we were doing from our table. It was a really nice dinner and it made me realize that I should do dinners with friends more often when I can.

While we had a pretty quick dinner, it was the perfect thing for me that night. I needed to have some positivity in my week, and my friend did just that for me. I have been very set in my ways with my food, and I needed the push to go outside what I’ve been feeling have been safe foods (even though I splurged a bit at dinner, my weight wasn’t affected the way I was scared it would be). And I got some great advice about the cancer screenings I’ve been doing lately and how normal they really are so I shouldn’t be too worried about them.

The Best Birthday Party! (or Wine Bar and Breakfast Bar)

This past Saturday was my birthday party and I have to say that it was one of the best birthday parties I’ve ever had in my life! Planning a birthday is stressful for me (worrying about if anyone will show up, if it costs money if people can afford it, hoping that everyone gets along) so while I love having a party I hate having to plan it. But I decided to go for something easy again this year and had a gathering at Bodega Wine Bar where I’ve had my birthday before.

I have to say, the staff at Bodega Wine Bar are amazing! I worked with one of their party coordinators and she was really easy to work with and didn’t require me to do too much. All we had to figure out was how many people would be there so we could figure out what reserved section would be best. I figured that maybe 10 people would be there and I loved the horseshoe section where my party was before so that was set up for me.

I set up a Facebook event for my birthday and about 7 people said they could make it, so I figured it would be a fun and relaxing hangout with my friends. And since it was my birthday, I decided to go with a really fun outfit and wore a tutu I got at Kiyonna a while ago (this picture is from the end of the party so I’m looking a bit wrinkled and my makeup and hair are not as done as they were at the beginning).

Birthday Outfit

A friend drove over to Bodega with me so I wouldn’t be there alone when I arrived. But it turned out some of my friends were already there! And by the time we sat down, even more people had arrived and we were starting to fill up our reserved section.

Usually with birthday parties like this, people arrive throughout the evening and there is a flow of people leaving and arriving throughout the evening. But this time, it seemed like almost everyone was there within the first 30 minutes! We quickly filled all the seats in our section at the bar and started to have to grab more chairs for everyone to sit down!

Most of the people at the party didn’t know the others who were there. But so many of them were people who I wanted to introduce to each other and everyone seemed to be getting alone and having a great time seeing the few people they knew and getting to know the people that they didn’t. Every so often, I just had to sit back and look at how awesome it was to have so many people there to celebrate my birthday and to watch everyone just having an awesome time!

And of course, we had to get a group picture with almost everyone who made it. The picture isn’t the best quality, but you can see that everyone is happy and it was an amazing turnout (I’m all the way in the back).

Bodega

We had some food and drinks but mainly we were all just talking about the most random stuff (like Disneyland or podcasts) and everyone was joining in on the conversation and enjoying being around everyone else.

As we got closer to 10pm, most people were leaving (some had come in from the valley and they didn’t want to be out too late), but there were a few of us who weren’t ready to end the night yet. Then we remembered that Nighthawk Breakfast Bar (which closed down shortly after I went there) just reopened in Venice that week! So we got into our cars and drove over to Venice and hoped that we could get in so we could have some of their amazing food!

Fortunately, there was a table available when we got there and we were quickly seated and checking out the menu to see what we wanted to get.

Nighthawk

My friend Elisa wasn’t able to get to Bodega but was able to join us at Nighthawk. And then I realized that the 4 of us (me, Elisa, Michelle, and Dani) who got the season tickets for Pantages for next season were all together for the first time ever! And not only that, Saturday marked exactly 1 year until we are going to be seeing “Hamilton” during opening weekend in our season! That is something to celebrate and we tried to get a photo to acknowledge that.

Hamilton

None of us really wanted to have drinks since we drank at Bodega, but we had to get some food for sure! Michelle and I have both been craving the Benedict Fries since we went to Nighthawk the first time. So of course we got those to share with everyone. And the last time we went we were tempted by the Tower of Bacon, but didn’t have room in our stomachs so we got that this time as well. The fries were better than they were before and the bacon was super delicious, but we wouldn’t have called the bacon a “tower”.

Tower of Bacon

We all enjoyed the food so much and it was the perfect way to end the evening! Even though Nighthawk was not the original plan, it worked out so well and I’m so glad we decided to make a stop there after Bodega! It really made my birthday so amazing and I had the best time!

I’m so grateful for my friends who were able to make it out to celebrate with me and for the ones who couldn’t make it but were celebrating virtually through texts and Facebook messages. I really had the best birthday ever and I’m hoping that this means that this year is going to be the best year ever as well!

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.

Dinner

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.

8:9

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!

A Day In San Diego (or Celebrating An Anniversary And A Birthday)

Even though I was out pretty late this past Saturday night, I got up early on Sunday morning so I could head out for the day. My parents were down in San Diego visiting my grandma and this past Sunday was their 34th anniversary! So since they were so close to me, I drove down so I could spend the day with them (and with my grandma and aunt).

Growing up, it was pretty cool that my parents’ anniversary was only 2 days before my birthday because we could celebrate them together or back to back. But I don’t think I’ve seen my parents on their anniversary since I moved to LA so this was a pretty special treat! Plus, as I joked to them, we all saved money on stamps not having to mail cards to each other.

My drive down was pretty uneventful (thankfully) and I got there just around lunch time. My parents had found an apartment to rent for the weekend so we had a nice place to hang out for the day. It was pretty close to where my grandma lives so my aunt was going to pick her up and bring her over to be with us. But before they got there, I got some time with my parents and the dog.

I know I just saw my parents 2 weeks ago, but it was really nice getting to see them. And I hadn’t seen Tucker since April and he seems to have gotten bigger since then! My grandma and aunt were supposed to arrive about 30 minutes after I got there, so my parents and I went for a walk in the neighborhood where they were staying so I could stretch my legs and the dog could get some energy out.

Tucker

It was a nice day for a walk and I loved being right next to the ocean. And of course Tucker loved getting to check out all the other dogs that were out on their lunchtime walk.

Right after we got back to where my parents were staying, my grandma and aunt showed up. We all hung out outside enjoying some food (I brought leftovers from the night before) and catching up with each other. I hadn’t seen my grandma or aunt for a while, so it was good to get to see them again (I won’t see either again until Thanksgiving but that’s not too long from now).

We all gave my parents their anniversary cards and they opened them and shared them with everyone. My parents do homemade cards for each other and we got to see what cards they made this year. And then I opened my birthday cards (I only opened the ones from my parents, grandma, and aunt since I didn’t bring the others with me) and shared them with everyone as well.

After opening cards (and thanking my grandma for my birthday check that will help me fix some more stuff on my car), we just spent the afternoon relaxing and enjoying time as a family together. I’ve really come to appreciate the quiet time I get to spend with my family since so many times when we are together it is for an event and things are a bit crazy and hectic. Just being with each other is a nice change.

My mom cooked dinner that night (it’s easy and usually better than going out) and we had a pretty early dinner since my parents knew I didn’t want to drive back too late. My dad, aunt, and I discussed how we might have even more family joining us this year for our Thanksgiving morning workout at Orangetheory and we are pretty excited about that. It should be a fun workout (as always) and I’m so happy that we started this new tradition with the family.

After dinner we spent a little bit more time together and then it was time for my aunt to drive my grandma back home. After they left, I stuck around a bit longer because my parents were giving me their leftovers from what they had cooked that weekend in San Diego (I’ve been eating their leftovers all week!). They also had some stuff for me to take back home (mainly donations to take to My Friends Place) so they helped me pack up my car.

I should be seeing my parents again in October (I’m hoping to make it to Tahoe since it’s been a while since I’ve been out there) so it’s not going to be too long before I get to hang out with them again. And as I said, Thanksgiving is coming quickly and I know I’ll be with them for a few days then as well.

Overall, I’m so happy that my parents just happened to be in San Diego on their anniversary so I got to spend the day with them. It was a nice way to spend the day and since I’m used to driving to San Diego just for the day, it wasn’t bad to drive down and back within a few hours. And even though it wasn’t my birthday, it still felt like I got to celebrate my birthday with them which is something that hasn’t happened since I turned 18. Hopefully we can celebrate their anniversary and my birthday together before another 15 years pass.