Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Wait, I turned 26?

Last Thursday I turned 26 and somehow a birthday that thought would be rather uneventful, especially in comparison to turning 25, was very much the opposite.

After spending the early part of my birthday with my Mom, Mamaw, and my littlest brother Sam, I spent the afternoon being a boring adult and getting my teeth cleaned and running to the bank, waiting for Jason to get home. He had mentioned getting sushi for dinner and after watching an episode of Hemlock Grove we left for dinner. He even asked me which restaurant I wanted to go, so I was more than confused when we walked in to my favorite local sushi restaurant and Jason urged me to walk past the hostess stand and I suddenly noticed that the booth in the back was full of our friends, surprise! Kudos to Jason for pulling that off, and our friends for keeping quiet! I seriously had no clue. It was a great dinner and I am so happy everyone was able to come out!

A few favorite frames from the Photobooth at the mall w/ Sam
Now, that wasn't the only thing Jason planned for my birthday. Some time ago he told me that he booked a hotel room in Cincinnati and made reservations at a restaurant for us as well, he just didn't tell me where. We've been wanting to make a trip to Ikea forever, so it all just seemed like a nice little overnight trip (after all it is a three hour drive up there and three more hours back.) Thursday night he decided to tell me what our plans were: staying at the new 21c Museum Hotel downtown (!!!) and dining at Orchids at Palm Court. WHAT?! The 21c in Louisville is one of our favorite places! Hotel, art gallery, restaurant, and bar all in one. We love to grab drinks at the bar and walk around the gallery, so we were both excited to check out the new Cincy location.

We got up early Friday morning and left for Ohio. After several hours of driving, we ended up at Newport On The Levee where we had lunch and decided to check out The Newport Aquarium. We love visiting aquariums and zoos, and I had never been to this one before so it was something fun to do while we waited to check-in to the hotel. There were adorable Port Jackson shark pups (something I'd never seen) and the cutest little pair of otters in their rainforest exhibit. I don't know how often any of you watch the Discovery Channel or Animal Planet, but the ocean is terrifying place and some of the things that live in there scare the hell out of me, so there were some critters I glanced at and then walked away from. None of them were sharks, surprisingly, but some of them were Japanese spider crabs. Freaky, and I did not share a photo of them below.

Driving into downtown Cincinnati

The Newport Aquarium
Port Jackson shark pup!

Scary monster.

Jason + the giant manta ray
Me + the creepy shark
By the time we made it out of the aquarium it was time to check into the hotel and I can't even begin to tell you how excited I was! We've visited the 21c in Louisville a few times to view the gallery and we've eaten at Proof, but we never stayed in the hotel. The Cincinnati location is brand new and it was amazing! Our room was amazing, the service was outstanding, and our experience in general - absolutely perfect! This is somewhere we will stay again in the future and I urge anyone to consider it if you have the chance - there are only 3 of them in the country, and they all share the signature penguins. (Each location gets its own color, Cincy's are yellow.)

We made it over to the restaurant, Orchids at Palm Court, that night and little did we know that we weren't just in for a nice dinner, but truly an experience. Not only was the food extraordinary, but our server was wonderful! He even had the kitchen send each of us a complimentary appetizer for the occasion - tuna crudo, which Jason noted as essentially being a deconstructed sushi roll. Delicious! We ordered different entrees and ended up trading once we tried one another's. In the end I had roasted chicken seasoned with rosemary gnocchi, spinach, and mushrooms and Jason had duck breast with a cara cara orange sauce, mushrooms, and bok choy. And after choosing our desserts from their cart, mine came out with a little lit candle and 'Happy 26th Birthday' scrawled around the edge of the plate in chocolate, something Jason was even clueless about.

There were two penguins in the lobby during our stay, this was one of them. We noticed they were moved around periodically.
Before dinner: The first photo would have been perfect if someone had been ready...
Mirror shots, our only option.

Dessert! That big bright spot was the candle.
Not a great photo, but our hotel from across the street.
After dinner we walked around downtown and viewed the lower level of 21c's art gallery, since the second floor was closed for a private event. After such a long day we were worn out and actually ended up crashing really early. I do think that I could have drank five cups of coffee and passed out in the bed in our hotel room  though, it was that comfortable.

When I woke up bright and early at 7am I couldn't believe it. After a half hour I realized I would not be sleeping anymore so I got up and got ready for the day while Jason slept in a bit more. We needed to pack, tour the second level gallery, and checkout before 11am. We managed to do all of that and check-out not long after 9am, which has never happened before. (A few photos from the galleries below.) We grabbed some coffee and made our way to Ikea!

Vee Speers from the Birthday Party series 2007

Julie Nord

Ellen Kool gallery

We spent three hours in Ikea. Three hours. We didn't even realize it. We walked the showroom area twice, picked out furniture, shopped the marketplace, bought a dresser and other things for the apartment, and didn't even realize how much time had passed until we were loading it all into the car. After Ikea we did a little shopping in Kenwood, ate some tasty Chipotle (we don't have them in our area,) and then headed home. We were hoping to not only avoid Derby Day traffic in Louisville, but to make it home in time to watch the race...

Somewhere along the way we drove out of clear, sunny blue skies and warm temperatures into rainy, cold awfulness. Oh spring in Kentucky... And luckily we made it home just in time to catch the Derby! (Seriously - ten minutes before the race.) Our horses did not win, but it's always so exciting to watch. I can't wait to go hopefully next year, and for sure in 2015! Once it was over I had to get to work putting together my dresser. I was a little anxious since I've heard that Ikea furniture can be a nightmare, but the only issue I had was a few screws I over tightened on the drawers, and once I loosened them up it was perfect! We're making a trip back up soon for a few other things -coffee table, book cases, and a desk. In our book - Ikea rocks.

The rest of the weekend was definitely spent winding down from all of the madness. No laundry, no groceries, just rest and some freelance work for the mister. This birthday far exceeded the expectations I had for it even just a few weeks ago. I knew it wasn't going to be boring by any means, but I just wasn't expecting such a fun, whirlwind weekend. Jason certainly knows what he's doing when it comes to planning weekend trips for the two of us and I am so appreciative of the fact that he takes the time and likes planning things like this! It doesn't hurt that we enjoy the same things one bit, I think that's not only why the dates/trips/activities we do together are always so much fun but also why we just work together. I absolutely love being in love with my best friend!

The trip was great and we had a fun time, but all of that aside - a birthday spent with family, friends, my mister - I really don't know what more I could have asked for :) So far, 26 is pretty sweet.


  1. Happy belated birthday! Sounds like such a fun weekend! That tuna crudo sounds amazing. Those photos with your little brother are so cute!

  2. Happy belated and sounds like such a great birthday!!!


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