Sunday, September 4, 2011

My Birthday Rocked!

Last week (now almost a week and a half, this blog took awhile to write) I turned 27. BORRR-ring.  Except for that I had a million birthday celebrations and it was awesome!  I love birthdays, not just mine- everyone's!

I started my birthday celebration a little less than a week before at my grandparent's house.  Details are given in my previous post- nothing is better than a traditional birthday celebration with family!

photo courtesy of Faith Weber

I continued my birthday in Memphis at the Polo Club with my new family!  So much fun and I also talked about this party in the last post.

On we went to Birmingham where we again acknowledged my birthday :)

Get ready for the big one......Russell rocked out my birthday with an awesome gift!  As I've said before, Russell believes that he is not a good planner and not good at giving gifts. However, after our super-fun anniversary and the present coming up, I think Russell is becoming quite the gift giver.

I think this is an appropriate time to talk about my love of gifts.  I don't really care if gifts are expensive.  I just really want them to be thoughtful.  More than getting gifts, I love giving gifts and I put a lot of thought into the gifts I give.  I'll also say receiving gifts usually stresses me out.  I hate when people are waiting for my reaction or judging the look on my face.  It is a known fact that I have terrible reactions to excitement.  My excited face usually looks negative or fake so for those of you who want to surprise me in the future, just know that when I look you in the eye and say, "Thank you, I love it." (yes that is followed by a period not an exclamation mark), I truly mean it and I am thankful for the gift I have been given.

Ok, now that I've left you in suspense about this awesome gift I've gotten from Russell.... he surprised me with a trip to the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta!
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I know what you're thinking- isn't that something that a 10 year old would want for her birthday?  Well, I would've loved it when I was 10 and I love it now!  I have a fascination with aquariums like some adults have fascinations with fast cars and amusement parks.  I love aquariums because I love learning about all of the crazy stuff that aquariums have.  I mean, how many opportunities do you have to see a whale shark or a giant sea horse, or beluga whales, or penguins, or lion fish, or giant eels?  I always walk away learning SO MUCH from the aquarium!  Now that you have confirmed your suspicions that I am in fact a nerd, let's continue on with this great gift...

Not only did Russell plan to take me to the aquarium, he also booked a hotel and found daycare for the dogs!!  He did a fabulous job and we had a wonderful time!

Sadly, we didn't take as many pictures as we should've but here are some jellyfish :)

Albino alligator- what?!

...and here are some of my favorite things at the aquarium that we didn't take pictures of ourselves:

otters!  taken from

Beluga Whales!!! taken from

Starfish!!! taken from

Not only did I LOVE the aquarium, we ate some AMAAAZING food!  Atlanta is a very dog-friendly city and Genna and Hattie were able to join us for breakfast and dinner both days!

Here's a rundown of our vacation:

We stayed at Hotel Indigo in Midtown which is a chain of boutique-like hotels.  I'm going to have to say, we can't recommend this one!  I've stayed at the Hotel Indigo in Nashville and I loved it.  The Atlanta Indigo indicated that they were in the middle of a lobby remodel.  It was nothing like we had pictured.  Imagine this: visquene (I know that's spelled wrong) everywhere, a makeshift restaurant, closed regular entry, and a teeth-rattling drilling sound that began at 9am and lasted for most of the day.  We stayed on the dog-friendly floor which was on the 3rd floor and did not lend itself to the greatest view and the room was very European (read very small).  The positives: no extra charge for pets, very clean room, great location, good soap and shampoo (Aveda).

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After we checked in and unloaded our cars (I don't know if I've said this yet but we had to drive by ourselves all the way back from AR.  We were thankful for all of the stops we made!), we were on a mission for dinner reservations.  We needed dog friendly, covered patios (it was raining) and somewhere open on Sunday and we found just the place!
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Anis (that's pronounced aNISE) Bistro: This yummy French restaurant is in Buckhead.  It was raining this day so we were happy that their patio is covered.  They warmly welcomed us even though we were last minute diners and they loved our pups!

We began the next morning with a walk to breakfast:

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Bakeshop: This is a hip bakery in Midtown Atl where we visited when we were in Atlanta for Michael and Meg's wedding in the early spring. It was great then and it was great now!  They've got cute little homemade dog biscuits that Genna and Hattie enjoyed for breakfast.  Russell had a gruyere and ham  croissant and I had a fruit, yogurt, and homemade granola.  A perfect start to a perfect morning!

After breakfast we trusted the good ole' GPS to take us to the doggie daycare that would be keeping Genna and Hattie occupied for the day.  We had committed to walking as many places as we could while in Atlanta and lets just say we were glad it was daylight and we had two dogs on our walk to daycare.  That walk took us through some sketchy scenery only to find out later that we could've stayed on Peachtree for most of the way (a much safer alternative)!

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Bark ATL: If you live or work in Midtown Atlanta, I highly recommend this place.  They were happy to accommodate our pups since we were traveling through and didn't have time for a trial day.  Our girls had fun and more importantly, they tolerated Genna's poor behavior i.e. jumping the 5ft barrier wall and unlocking the door locks!  They separate the dogs by size to keep everyone safe and have puppycams so we could check in on the girls throughout the day.  When we picked them up, the girls were happy and tired and the staff was very complimentary even though we knew Genna was a handful.

Off to the aquarium!  See pictures above :)

We took a quick lunch break to go have sushi.  That's right, sushi.  What else would you be craving after looking at sea life for two hours?  Some may say it's an odd choice but I say it's logical :)  We ate at...darn I can't think of the name of it but it was REALLY good.  We both had cucumber salads and split the chefs sushi special.

Back to the aquarium we went to see the dolphin show. I loved the dolphins but the actual show was not for me.  I see what they were going for- dolphin musical- but the man in the light up cape saving the sea from monsters by summoning the dolphins wasn't really doing it for me.  It would have been much cooler if they went for the SeaWorld educational type production.  All in all- I was pumped to see the dolphins.
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We then went through the shark tunnel which was super cool!  This is a video (snaps for me for figuring out how to put a video on my blog)

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And off to the 4D adventure.  It was a cute little 3D movie ripped from finding Nemo.  What makes it 4D you ask?  Well, you actually get splashed and some things jump out from under your seat. It was pretty cute and I would've begged to see it over and over again if I had been seven.  By now the aquarium is closing so it was off to pick up the pups!

After we picked up the girls we headed to dinner at TAP.  Outstanding beer list and exceptional gastropub food.  It was a perfect night for eating outside and the dogs, being exhausted from daycare, calmly sat or slept while we ate dinner.  The staff is friendly and knowledgeable and the atmosphere is outstanding!  This was one of our favorite meals for sure!

The next morning we packed up and navigated through the construction to load up and head out.

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We ended our Atlanta vacation at Highland Bakery.  Since we were on our way out of town, Russell and I were in different cars and parking was a bit tricky.  Russell found parking first and grabbed a table.  Genna and I had to park a bit further away, giving her plenty of time to do her business in discretely, but she chose to poop right in front of the restaurant manager (or possibly owner) in a small flowerbed by someone else's table.  Thanks a lot Genna.  I was given a waste bag and nicely asked to dispose of Genna's business in a trashcan far down the street.  Enough about that disgustingness and on to the food...

Russell and I were going back and forth trying to figure out if we wanted breakfast or lunch.  We both chose lunch and split french toast for dessert.  This was an instance where we should've split our entrees but we didn't.  Luckily, sandwiches keep well in the car and we were able to eat our other halves later.  I'll say the sandwiches were superb- fresh bread, premium ingredients etc. but the star of the show was the french toast.  It was made of challah and it was the most perfect consistency of egg and milk and cinnamon.  Y-U-M.  My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

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This is it! The awesomeness that is challah french toast!

Then we were off for a long trip back to Durham with an hour and a half detour to repair the bike rack that was threatening to throw our bikes into the highway...this is a whole blog post in itself so I will spare you the details.

Last leg of birthday celebration:

Double birthday party for me and my friend Kate.  That's right- Katie and Kate the Kappas turned 27 on the same day!  We hung out at the apartment grill and had sliders and sides with the star of the show being this awesome birthday cake by Lara Hussary.  Pictures below:

photo courtesy of Kate Thomas

(more pictures coming soon)

So that's it folks.  An awesome birthday filled with friends, family, and fishes.  What more could a girl ask for?

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