luxury sweets: 3rd annual chocolate walk.

Copyright © 2012 – 2013 · All Rights Reserved · Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers.This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

birthday in the burg!: blue nile.

I was so worried about my birthday curse that for my recent 40th birthday, I considered doing nothing at all. Because turning 40 is bad enough without everything going wrong.

I have a history of bad birthdays. Not every birthday has been a disaster, mind you—there are two or three I don’t remember at all (like my first, second, and third birthdays), so I guess those don’t count. But some stick out as awkward or just plain bad.

For my 18th birthday, my parents got me luggage. Hint hint. But they also got me a plane ride over my hometown, co-piloted by my dad. That was pretty cool. Of course, my birthday always coincides with Father’s Day, so I think the gift served two purposes. Whatever.

One birthday in the mid-1990s (they all run together now), my friends at work planned to take me out to lunch at Indian American Cafe. But they forgot to actually tell me about it, and I was in Nags Head. Here’s a summary of the answering machine messages:
“Hi, Katie. It’s Anne. We’re all down at Indian American Cafe. Since you’re not answering the phone, I’ll assume you’re on your way! Can’t wait to see you!!” <beep>
“Hi, Katie. It’s Anne again. I hope you’re okay. I thought you’d be here by now. We’ll wait a little longer.” <beep>
“Hi. Um, we’re kinda hungry, so we’re gonna go ahead and order, okay? Hope you get here soon!” <beep>
“I’m not really sure what happened, but we’re eating your cake.” <beep> When I got home from the beach, I got all the messages at once. Anne was kinda embarrassed about the whole thing. Apparently the cake was really good.

On another birthday, someone tried to plan a surprise camping trip for me. Only, I’m not the best camper—I’m bony and pretty much allergic to everything outside. Also, no one was on time. So when I got there, it was just one girl standing in the woods with a balloon. “Surpriiiise…..”

This one takes the cake (ha!). I actually invited a few people over for dinner on my birthday, which I cooked… and one of the guests arrived completely trashed and literally passed out in his salmon filet. Oh ghee.

So I’m sure you understand why I get a little nervous at birthday time. Despite all those wacky experiences, I still love to be surprised. And this year, Brandy and Danielle ended my birthday curse once and for all. At The Blue Nile. They didn’t tell me much about what they’d planned… they just told me to meet them at The Blue Nile at 11ish for brunch and to wear sunscreen. I did as instructed.

Only, they weren’t ready at 11, and Brandy kept texting me, “Not yet, not yet…” So I drove around Harrisonburg til nearly twelve (man, I was hungry!!) when I got the text: “Okay, now would be good.” And when I got there…. look!!

Forty presents. FORTY! FOOORRRTTTY!!! And a Happy Birthday sign Danielle made. Of course, I instantly started crying because I knew the curse was broken, and then I realized what a task I had ahead of me and I pulled it together. Danielle crowned me with a hand-made tiara and we got down to business. First, ordering food. It was Sunday brunch at the Blue Nile, and their menu features several delicious entrees plus an ample buffet. AND, one-dollar bloody mary’s and mimosas. ONE DOLLAR. And let me tell you, their bloody mary’s are the best I’ve ever had. I ordered the eggie grinder while Brandy and Danielle hit the buffet. My meal was excellent—scrambled eggs with rosemary, guacamole, and collard greens served on a honey wheat bun and a side of sweet potato fries. Brandy and Danielle made a couple trips to the buffet. We were all quite satisfied, or as Brandy put it, “full up to my collarbone.”

Then, the presents. OH my goodness, what a treat. I thought it was really cute that some of Danielle’s gifts were wrapped in brown lunch bags with the top folded over three times and stapled. Unbeknownst to her at the time, I was reminded of an old Phil Hartman SNL skit called The Anal Retentive Chef. “And how do we dispose of odiferous waste?” Ha ha! All of the gifts were wrapped in some fashion and accompanied by a note—really, really a tremendous effort by my two friends.

Here are some of the gifts, in addition to brunch and morning cocktails I received:
a bouquet of flowers
a drawing of the three of us by Danielle

two pairs of earrings from Ten Thousand Villages
pumpkin bread from Shank’s Bakery
a pint of blueberries from the Farmer’s Market
a gift card from Pulp
three fortune cookies! One says, “You are going to have some new clothes.” Another: “You will have many friends.” And, “Life is a tragedy for those who feel and a comedy for those who think.” (I personally think that last one is backwards, but I’m getting of track.)

coffee, tea, beer, and wine
a book from Downtown Books called The Disruptive Student and the Teacher
a copy of Virginia Living Magazine and a brochure, both featuring photos from this blog!
beer koozies

who cries over beer koozies? I do, when they’re hand-decorated by friends!

and several coupons: one for babysitting, one for “bitch-free yard work/slavery,” and one for an hour-long photo shoot courtesy of Brandy Somers Photography, “non-blog”

…and several other things… have you been counting??

At any rate, if you are looking to surprise a friend with a lovely birthday, head to the Blue Nile. For me, it was one for the record books and completely disaster-free. The Blue Nile is located at 181 North Main Street, across from Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church.

Copyright © 2012 · All Rights Reserved · Photos by Brandy Somers. Written content by Katie Mitchell. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

healthy, happy h’burg no. 7: PULP

You can judge the quality of food by the sounds my son makes when he eats it. He hums while he eats. He’s done it since the day he was born. And he doesn’t even know he does it, because when you say, “Hey! Quit humming!” he doesn’t even look up. He just keeps eating and humming. Focused. Oblivious. Oh, the unapologetic joy of a five year old.

He was quite noisy on our recent trip to PULP—the smoothie bar located inside Shenandoah Bicycle Company (which is downtown between Dave’s Taverna and Clementine). They feature four açai bowls ($6 each and two people could easily share), or you can build your own. It’s like a smoothie, but thicker, which is why it’s served in a bowl. Because we had not the patience to discuss with the children what they actually wanted, we ordered one of each. 6 people + 4 açai bowls = a chorus of whining about having to share… but soon it was a veritable spoon/smoothie free-for-all. “Gimme some!”  “Can I try yours?”  “Mom, he’s not sharing!”  Sheesh, people. Let’s calm down now. We’re all here for the same reason: YUMMY.
Brandy’s favorite was the O.G.—a sweet blueberry açai bowl. Bree got the Ruby (strawberry), but she soon migrated to Blake’s (The Braley’s—tangy raspberry), and Cal took over the Ruby. Ella got the Short Mountain, which I LOVED because it tasted just like ice cream. She shared with me, sweet girl.
Everyone was quiet for quite some time.
Except Cal, who was humming.

Pulp also serves tea, so when you’re freezing from having eaten an entire açai bowl yourself, you can warm up with one their nine varieties of hot tea. And while you sit there, feeling better by the second from all the powerful, superfood nutrients coursing through your veins, you can be inspired by your surroundings—bikes.

Brandy and I both got our bikes at Shenandoah Bicycle Company. In fact, we bought the same bike (different times—she got hers first). The only difference is color—hers is blue, and mine is… like a champagne color. Oh, and mine is bigger, because I am an unusually loooooong person.

Wow—I really strayed from the topic there. Obviously we need to do a piece on the bike shop itself. So, we’ll be back! And next time, I’m getting that Short Mountain.

And I’m not sharing, so you can just STEP BACK, friend.
Now that spring is here, we’re all excited to get back outside, get moving, and feel young again. Stroll on down to PULP, kill your winter sluggishness with a nutrient-packed treat, and maybe you’ll ride out of there on two wheels… and with a happy belly.