Birthday Bonanza!

by Jenn (eating bender) on May 10, 2011

Hello from the 25th year!

The idea of celebrating the “year” rather than the “age” comes from a longstanding joke in my family. When my mom turned 49, Papa Bender gave my brother and me the idea to congratulate her on celebrating her 50th year.

I am sure you can imagine how well that one went over.

Fortunately, she recognized immediately that the humor could only be that of one infamous fatherly blog chef. 😉 The rest is history, but yesterday my parents dished it my way as I celebrated turning 24!

Thank you all for the birthday wishes. The notes I got on the blog, through Facebook and email were all so wonderful and made the day that much more special. It truly was a knockout celebration!

My morning was kick started into action when Jill brought homemade blueberry muffins to our meeting with the DreamTeam, a group of students from DePaul we are working with on some DreamChamps initiatives. They came up with the team name – clever, right?

As we were walking out of our meeting, Jill announced that after we made our daily video for the DreamChamps blog, we would be taking the rest of the day off. Her plans were yet to be revealed.

Twist my arm.

We worked quickly and were soon headed to lunch at my favorite sandwich shop. You know the one. The only. Hannah’s Bretzel! I got my usual Italian Parma Ham + Goat Cheese.

I also indulged in a new flavor of IZZE soda: sparkling lime. It was very refreshing!

After lunch, Jill led us to our next mystery destination, which turned out to be the movie theater! We were basically the only two people there in the middle of the afternoon, ready and waiting to see the new chick flick Something Borrowed.

Mara and I have been raving about this movie for weeks (and Mara, I can’t wait to see it with you!) so I was a giggling school girl when it finally started. Having just read every book written by Emily Giffin, I knew I was in for a treat.


The movie reviews did not do this one justice (it got panned pretty badly). I thought it was really good! Yes, it was definitely different from the book (especially John Krasinski’s character). Yes, it’s meant to be a feel good movie. But I thought it was adapted perfectly for the screen. Jill and I both agreed that it was one of the best romantic comedies we’ve seen in a long time. I really hope they make the sequel!

Once the movie ended, we made our way to Hackney’s for a quick pick me up.

I tried my first Oberon Ale and LOVED it. Perfectly light and fresh for the warmer weather! We also split an order of chips and guacamole to feed our hungry bellies.

We chatted away a few more hours before saying goodbye. It was truly an amazingly well planned adventure and I am so grateful to you, Jill! You completely caught me by surprise in the best way possible. :) Thank you!

Eventually I made my way back home and met up with my lovely husband for dinner at one of our favorite places to celebrate special occasions. Many of you know the story of Karen. Or the story of the boy no longer named Karen.

On May 9, it was the birthday girl named Jennifer.

My OpenTable reservation was made under my full name. I wasn’t complaining – they got it right! 😉 But seriously, McCormick & Schmick’s is always delightful, which is why we keep coming back!

We started out by ordering a bottle of Don Miguel Gascon, an Argentinian Malbec, to share.

I still have yet to meet a Malbec that I don’t like. I really hope the streak continues!

Our waiter informed us that we would receive a complimentary appetizer and dessert for my birthday (yay)! We decided to start out with an order of crab cakes. They were just the right amount of flavor without being too mushy or fried tasting.

While we waited for the entrees, we munched on sourdough bread.

Then came time for the main event. We were ridiculously excited. I decided to order the Wild Seafood Trio, which came with grilled Alaskan salmon, swordfish and shrimp in a mushroom risotto.

The shrimp and the swordfish were by far the best out of the three. But topping them all was that risotto. Seriously. I need to learn how to make risotto at home. It is out of this world.

Bobby chose the Lobster & Shrimp Ravioli. Another creamy, delectable winner.

We stuffed ourselves silly, but of course, still saved room for creme brulee.

The entire dining experience was amazing. McCormick & Schmick’s continues to impress us.

Definitely an incredible way to spend my first day as a 24 year old! Thanks to all the family and friends who helped make this one of my favorite birthdays yet.

Speaking of family…

Papa Bender is having some not-so-fun surgery tomorrow. It’s nothing to be worried about – if anything, it will make us all (well, especially me, his overly anxious daughter) worry a little less. But if you wouldn’t mind keeping him in your thoughts over these next few days, I would be eternally grateful.

Love you, Papa B.


1 Erin May 10, 2011 at 10:27 pm

Awwh. I love you and your family. happy birthday, and what a blessing you are to the world, Jenn! Your life is one to revel in…full of beauty, grace, and gratitude.

2 Jenn (eating bender) May 10, 2011 at 11:13 pm

You are so sweet! Thank you for making me smile with your beautiful words. :) They coordinate perfectly with your gorgeous self, inside and out.

3 Brittany May 10, 2011 at 10:29 pm

Ahhh Jenn, I’m so glad to hear you had such a fun birthday. It’s awesome that Jill was able to plan the mystery trip to the movie theater for Something Borrowed. I haven’t read the book yet but I really want to see the movie.

Every time I read about McCormick & Schmick’s on your blog I’m reminded why I need to go back again soon. The Wild Seafood Trio looks amazing!

Here’s to a wonderful 25th year! :)

4 Jenn (eating bender) May 10, 2011 at 11:12 pm

Thank you, Britt! You should definitely see the movie – it’s a really fun one! And yes, you must go to McCormick & Schmick’s again soon. Can’t wait to catch up with you, lady!

5 Kristie May 10, 2011 at 11:06 pm

Definitely will be keeping Papa Bender in my prayers, Jenn. LOVE the Oberon appearance – but it’s best with a slice of orange :). Also, I am dying to see Something Borrowed. Maybe this weekend I’ll make Chris go with me!

6 Jenn (eating bender) May 10, 2011 at 11:14 pm

Thank you so much, Kristie. I truly appreciate that! Also will know to add an orange slice next time. I love fruit in beer. :) Oh, and please do make Chris go with you to Something Borrowed. I just might have to make Bobby come with me again.

7 Lauren May 11, 2011 at 5:55 am

What an amazing day! Happy Birthday girl. You deserved the most incredible day and I wish you all the best for your 25th year. :)

8 Erica May 11, 2011 at 5:58 am

What a great birthday!! Yummy food, friends and time with the man= perfection! Chips and guac is better than cake in my opinion :) DEFINITELY will be thinking of Papa B and your whole family. Hope everything goes perfectly<3

9 Laurie Shulman May 11, 2011 at 7:43 am

What a wonderful birthday! Love the McCormick & Schmick’s wished you a Happy Day on your menu…awesome!

10 Salah May 11, 2011 at 7:44 am

what a wonderful birthday!! Look absolutely amazing!!!

11 Jill Felska May 11, 2011 at 7:52 am

So glad I was able to celebrate your 25th year with you! :) Can’t wait for round two next Monday!

12 brandi May 11, 2011 at 8:07 am

sounds like it was a fantastic birthday!!! :)

13 Leng May 11, 2011 at 11:57 am

Happy Birthday Jenn!! Looks like you had a great time. I’ve been wanting to watch Something borrowed too, especially since John Krasinski is in it (LOVE THE OFFICE). Your dad is too funny. I love the idea of celebrating the year rather than the age. It starts off the new (birth) year on a positive note, which is not something many people look forward to. :-)

14 Megan (Braise The Roof) May 11, 2011 at 12:07 pm

What a fun birthday! Glad you got to try Oberon- it’s so good!

15 Shannon May 11, 2011 at 2:26 pm

sending good thoughts to papa bender, and many wishes to you on your birthday, albeit a bit late! sorry i missed it, but hope your 25th year is just as amazing as the last one!!

16 cbrady3 May 11, 2011 at 3:42 pm

What a great day! I loved Something Borrowed as well…saw it the night it came out!
Keeping your dad in my prayers.

17 Karla May 11, 2011 at 4:32 pm

What a well-deserved FUN birthday, Jenn!! Your McCormick & Schmick’s exploits always entertain :) Wishing you another amazing year!

I really enjoyed Something Borrowed as well–how can you not love John Krasinski?

Sending positive thoughts to your Dad today!

18 Natalie @ will jog for food May 11, 2011 at 6:29 pm

What a great birthday!!

Keeping Papa Bender in my prayers :)

19 Laura @ prettylittlewords May 12, 2011 at 11:00 am

Happy birthday!!! Sounds like the celebrations couldn’t have been better :)

My new office is just down the street from Hannah’s and I’ve had the parma + GC sammie TWICE this week already. Oy.

I have a couple great risotto recipes that I’d be happy to share! Tomato + basil with fresh mozzarella is my favorite, but I have also done bnut squash and asparagus. It’s shockingly easy!

Lots of good wishes for your dad!!

20 Tori (Fresh Fruition) May 13, 2011 at 9:29 am

Happy birthday!

Looks like you had an awesome time :)

21 livelaughloveandrun May 14, 2011 at 7:06 am

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!! I love your team’s name.. that’s adorable! Also, I loved all the Emily Giffin books too.. I’m going to see the movie even though it got panned (hopefully I like it as much as you!)

22 Cara (Twinthusiast) May 15, 2011 at 11:37 am

Again, happy belated birthday, Auntie! 😉

23 Mary @ Bites and Bliss May 15, 2011 at 4:25 pm

Looks like you had a ton of fun!! I’d really like to see Something Borrowed…and you never know about reviews. I end completely disagreeing with them anyway!

24 Foodie (Fab and Delicious Food) May 18, 2011 at 11:11 am

Happy Belated Birthday! Glad you had a good one!

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