Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Birthday Weekend

This has to be one of the best birthdays on record.  My husband made plans to take me on an adventure around St. Louis. Although the plan fell apart a little bit, we found some other things to make it just as fun. Originally, he planned to take me to Forest Park. It is a huge park with several different venues within the park - zoo, art museum, lake, etc. However, I was watching the morning news and was reminded they were having a huge 4th of July celebration at Forest Park over the weekend. We had zero interest in fighting that crowd, so we audibled. .

Since I knew it would be a day filled with potential treats, I wanted to get off to a healthy start. While my husband was at the gym I took a walk around the neighborhood. Little dogs have no idea how little they really are. This guy was letting me know that it was his neighborhood.
Someone made a Little Free Library in their yard. I have seen them in parks or other public places, but this is my first residential sighting...great idea in a neighborhood with so many walkers. I didn't look inside this time.
 A little bit of Midwest tropics. I wonder how they survive the winter.
 If you are looking for your squirrel, I think I found it.
 Definitely not my speediest, but a perfect start to my birthday morning.
When I got home I made myself breakfast. After a week of oatmeal, it was a nice change to get back to my hash.
By the time my husband got home from the gym, I was "healthified" and ready to go. I know this sounds like a bizarre choice for a birthday adventure. Because we were attempting to avoid the downtown/fair traffic we kept to the south side of the city. When I realized that took us over the bridge right next to Jefferson Barracks Cemetery, I asked if we could make a quick stop. Spoiler Alert: We were there for almost two hours.
The gravestones go on and on, each one marking the grave of someone who served in the U.S. Armed Forces sometime in their lives. So many.
Not all the veterans served in combat and even fewer were killed in combat, but they were willing and they served. We saw the grave of one soldier who fought in Afghanistan. I looked up his name when we got home. He committed suicide...it breaks my heart.
There were quite a few deer in the cemetery. Apparently, visitors must feed them. Several approached our car...then walked away when we didn't hand out treats. The deer offered nice moments of levity in such an emotional place.
My uncle served in World War II in Europe. I never heard him talk about it. I think so many of our veterans have some awful war memories locked inside. My Uncle Bob was one of the best of men. He would do anything for anyone and was always tinkering with some project. He had a huge laugh. I hated anyone to call me Annie...except Uncle Bob.  
Since we spent so long at the cemetery we were starving. We headed straight to lunch - GPS took us on a quite the drive through areas of the city we had never seen. I had picked out this place a couple weeks ago. It is a Mexican and Honduran restaurant. I was super excited to have Honduran food. As I mentioned last week, I spent time in Honduras with the Peace Corps. Ironically, I did not have a good food experience there for the most part. I am sure it was because I was sick much of the time. Oddly, one of my favorite herbs, cilantro, was once despised by me and called "The Taste of Honduras". Yet, here I am many years later looking forward to our Honduran meal and lovin' cilantro :)
Honduran taco - chicken rolled up and fried - kinda like a flauta or taquito. It was covered in a slaw/salad that was slightly sweet. My husband was not a fan, but I enjoyed it.
The star of the meal for me was the pupusas. Tortilla filled with meat and cheese. The little bit of cheese that leaked out gave it the most delicious extra crunch. Fried cheese...sigh.  We had the most adorable waiter. He was probably 16-17ish, so polite and was working his buns off. He was also helping in the kitchen and proudly (yet shyly) told me he made my pupusas himself. I know it made them even tastier.
If you know my husband you know he was sampling the hot sauces. Don't worry he left some for the next person :)  On a related note, we agreed the salsa they served with the chips is our new favorite restaurant salsa. I wish I'd asked if they would sell me a bowl to go.
The restaurant had a little shop on one side. I noticed the name and bought it without really reading the label. Turns out it has nothing to do with pico de gallo as we know it. In Mexico, they sprinkle this ground chili pepper and salt mixture on fruit with a splash of lime juice. Don't confuse it with chili powder  (which includes other spices) - this is just ground chili peppers and salt. Sounds like you can use whichever fruits you like and their are other brands of the seasoning. Here is an example. I am eager to try it when we get back.
TMI alert - made a quick stop in the restroom before we headed to our next destination. I loved this little sign hanging in the restroom....it is how I feel about our little family.
Okay, this may be the craziest thing I have ever posted...you be the judge. I opened the door to the restroom and this is what I first saw. My mind immediately started racing "what kind of toilet is that??  I am not using that? Composting toilet?  What? "  Thankfully, I turned to the left and saw an actual toilet and my brain finally registered that  this was just the trash can :)
Our final stop on our adventure - a sculpture park. It was my idea to replace the art museum we were avoiding because of the 4th of July fair with this park. I'd been here years ago when the symphony had a summer of free concerts in area parks.
By the time, we got there it was really hot, but we did make a quick trip around to give a little side-eye to some of the "art" pieces.
Speaking of eyes...
 I like it, but does that make it art.
 Looks like my husband better get back to the gym...didn't even budge.

I loved this idea of being able to check out a book to use while you are in the park.

It wasn't the original plan, but we had a great time together. It just made me more excited for our upcoming adventure.

The day ended with a trip to the farm for dinner and birthday brownies. My MIL even made them into a cute cake for me :)
It truly was one of the nicest birthdays I have ever had.

Sunday was another good day. I picked our first tomato. Thanks for leaving me one, you crazy varmints. Of course, it got its own photo shoot :)
There were many birthday calories to be worked off and I was super excited to have the pool all to myself the whole time!!  I upped the number of laps from 10 to 12 (for both swimming and walking).

Later in the afternoon I watched a little swimming. I imagine this is exactly how I looked at the pool :)  I saw one swimmer get DQ'd in the 400 IM for making her turn on her back. It cost her a place on the national team.
In the evening, we went to my sister's house for a catchall family birthday BBQ.  (I took a big bowl of grilled veggies.) We have many June/July birthdays and decided to do one party. The other day, I became aware of a new summer craze. People are painting rocks and hiding them around town for others to find. I have a crazy supply of craft paint and my sister has a pile of landscaping rock...so we decided to join the fun.

Now we need to hide them. There is a local Facebook group where people can post clues to where they are hiding rocks and/or post pictures of their finds.  Let me know if they are doing this in your area.
You all know I love my chips, but I am trying to limit my consumption. I couldn't resist these at Aldi's the other day - good thing I had a party to go to and could share them. I could have sat on the couch and eaten the whole bag by myself. I thought they tasted like a really great mushroom soup. I also got a horseradish cheddar flavor that was tasty. My niece's husband commented that he likes that I bring weird food to parties :)
Monday was back to work. Originally, I'd planned to take it off, but changed my mind to save another vacation day for out trip. I kept breakfast super simple, but super delicious - peanut butter and banana on wheat. Just writing about this now makes me want to go make one. Maybe for lunch.
After work, it was back to my Double Light workouts. To save space in this giant post, I am sharing a couple videos instead of all the pictures we took :)  You will no doubt notice I am working out in PJ pants. I guess it is a good thing when all your workout clothes are dirty. But being the super dedicated exerciser I am I just grabbed the PJ pants and got it done. I even used some heavier weights on some of the exercises...PJ Power!!

Whew!  You made it to the end!!!  There were more indulgences on my birthday weekend than I had told myself there would be, but I am proud that I got in a walk and a couple good workouts. I also ate some solid healthy meals at least half the time and didn't allow a total free-for-all.

Hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday!!


  1. Happy birthday!!!!!! I'm glad it was a good one :)

    I think those little libraries are adorable. I've never seen one in a residential neighborhood either, but that's a perfect place for one!

    Mmmmm, Honduran food. That sounds amazing. But those brownies sound even more amazing!

    1. If I had more foot traffic by my house I would totally put one up. My MIL makes very good brownies :)

  2. What a great birthday weekend!

    I love the painted rocks. I have a pet rock, but have never seen any hiding around town. I think it's a fun idea.

    You have me thinking about a peanut butter and banana sandwich now lol.

    1. We had fun with the rocks...there are some serious painters out there. Some are super fancy and people are dashing to and fro to grab them up. Mmm...now I am thinking about a peanut butter and banana sandwich again :)

  3. That is such a wonderful birthday celebration! Glad you were able to make an audible and work something out. And now I need to try some papusas.

    1. It worked out perfectly :) I bought some masa yesterday so I think I am going to give them a try when we get back from vacation.

  4. Happy birthday and so glad you were so active this past weekend too!

    1. Thanks! I am totally getting back into the morning swim. If I can do swimming twice a week I will be happy.