Monday, May 23, 2011

Scenes from the Perfect Birthday... Photos, Food & Gushing.

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My birthday began at midnight when Dan gave me the perfect present!
History has remembered a certain handful of men as being "Great Husbands". While only a person's partner can really know if a person really deserves to be called a "Great Husband", there are a few who I think stand out, like John Adams* and Abraham Lincoln. These men may have not been perfect, and had careers that were demanding to say the least, but their devotion to their families and partners have been noted for posterity. There are others like Paul Newman and Paul Child, who stepped beyond the traditional role of "husband" that they grew up with to the definition of "partner". I have been lucky enough to marry one of these exceptional men.

The 35th year of my life has been a pretty notable one. There have been so many ups and downs, and moments in our marriage that have really brought us closer than ever. But don't worry, I won't bore you with the details... instead I'm going to share with you a play-by-play of my perfect birthday that my perfect partner planned for me, and some photos that might inspire you to visit NYC...

The morning of my birthday, we were out the door by 9am.We wanted to get breakfast at Bushbaby down the street, but unfortunately they weren't open yet. It was disappointing, but we're campaigners by nature. We make it work. This is the first time that day that Dan had to think on his feet to make this the perfect birthday, and we switched gears quickly. We picked up some Naked juices at a pagoda and walked a few more blocks to check out Brooklyn's Botanic Garden (which are free every Saturday Morning from 10 to noon) and then checked out the Green Market at Grand Army Plaza. We're still in that phase in the relocation where we need to figure out where our food is going to come from. I mean, to us it goes beyond prices and product - it matters where and how these things are produced. At first I was a little nervous. The Green Market at Grand Army Plaza did have way too many free-range goat cheese and duck meat stands for us, but once we made it through that area and hit the flowers and vegetables, we found what we wanted.

Organic - Locally Grown - Beautiful! We're saved.
At least a few times a week, Dan has a Smoked Tofurky Sandwich with lots of vegetables and on whole wheat bread... I know many folks don't live a life where they need to locate a good spot to get organic produce in order to make their week work, but I'm going to be honest: we're not those people. We buy as ethically as we can, when we can, and so finding out we can walk down to The Green Market every weekend and walk around the Botanic Gardens and pick up fresh vegetables for the week... this was one of those game-changing moments. Life in Brooklyn just got better... and sustainable.

Dan at the market plotting the next move.
After researching which booths had vegan friendly bread and the best produce, we were off to Park Slope to get brunch at V Spot.

I know I should have had pancakes but I had to get the Curry Lentil Soup & one of their Faux Chicken Sandwiches.
I skipped over the impressive brunch menu and went straight to for their sandwich menu. It's not that I don't worship breakfast food, but if I want to eat lentil soup at 10 am, I think that should be my right. Dan went a more traditional route and had some pancakes and homefries that would make the table next to ours remark "I want that"... you know you ordered well when as your food hits the table, the room gasps.

Then we strolled over to Bergan Street Comics to pick up my other present... Scott Snyder's and Stephen King's latest project American Vampire Vol.1. I know a lot of folks say vampires are played out, but I like what I like and I like vampires. And seriously, this comic is pretty cool. It has a unique style and plot line that will suck you in (terrible joke intended). You can read more about this in our nerdery section.

Then we caught a train to do one of those exceptionally awesome touristy things that everyone should do at least once in their life. We walked across The Brooklyn Bridge.

Yes it was this cool.
I know that now that we live in New York we're suppose to be too cool to do things and go places but we're not cool. We're totally going to do it all. Walking across this 128 year old bridge that at the time was considered 'the project of a mad man' was only the beginning.

When we hit Manhattan, we headed uptown to stroll through Central Park on our way to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Met) to see The Alexander McQueen exhibit. Now many of you know that I spent a few years working in the fashion industry promoting cruelty free fashion, and during that time I actually had the privilege of attending an Alexander McQueen show at Paris Fashion Week. Now it may seem weird that an animal rights advocate would consider it a privilege to attend the show of an fashion designer who is infamous for using feathers, leather and fur, but it was. Because it was at his show that I had one of those moments when I really appreciated fashion as art. Alexander McQueen was one of the few men who had the talent and ability to make his dark dreams and nightmares to reality. He was capable of transcending reality to bring dark and romantic visions to life** for us all, but unfortunately choose to ignore the unthinkable realities the animals that died for his fashion faced. I can tell you that his runway show lived up his reputation for tragic drama, but to me the real tragedy is that this great artist died before he could have that realization so many of us in the animal rights movement have had... that ah-ha moment when we realize that we can so easily make the world a better place through our everyday actions and go vegan. This talented man was a master of construction and truly understood the architecture and skill that goes into real fashion... he didn't need skins to shock and awe us. We would have loved him anyway.
Stolen Photo from The Alexander McQueen Exhibit
This exhibit was where something kinda wonderful happened. As we walking out, Dan said to me "I get it - that was art". I have a real sincere passion for fashion, and to hear that my love can share my appreciation for art... well, that's one of those moments in a relationship when you know you did good. We strolled through the museum and saw one of Van Gough's self portraits and Degas Little Fourteen Year Old Dancer.We held hands and kissed like teenagers by the Lions that stood at the Gates of Babylon.

And just when we thought we couldn't get anymore culture and highbrow entertainment in a one day - we headed out to see Thor in 3D! GASP! If you know me, you know I love Thor. But I won't bore you with my Natalie Portman bashing and Kenneth Branagh gushing... I will say this. A Thor movie could have been terrible - like Masters of The Universe terrible - but this was a great Thor movie. Just lovely.

That brings us to dinner... at Candle 79. Now in NYC, there are many vegan restaurants that are capable of serving you a meal that will make you swoon. Candle 79 is one of those institutions. We shared a bottle of wine and this dreamy meal... (please excuse terrible photos the romantic lighting was not ideal for food photos)
Chili-Crusted Seitan with Quinoa Salad

Tempeh Tamale with Mole Sauce
Vegan Cannoli
Mexican Chocolate Brownie with Caramelized Banana

I want to end this by thanking everyone who sent me such thoughtful messages and emails and posted such thoughtful birthday wishes. I don't even have the words to express how touched I was by it all and consider myself the luckiest of all the lucky ladies in this world that I get to share my life with such wonderful and compassionate people. XO

* No John didn't "remember the ladies" while constructing the Declaration of Independence like Abigail had asked but their letters to each other do show that he did respect and value her opinions and thoughts and held them in a higher regard more than most husbands of that time typically showed their wives.

** Those antlers were plastic - probably to keep them lightweight.