Anyway, my actual birthday was last Thursday, but things were too chaotic to be able to do anything much about it then. I did try to "clear the decks" for the weekend, however, and, after a Saturday mostly filled with errands (The Girls and I did have a "picnic" up in Lincoln Square instead of our usual Potbelly's excursion), they took me up to Standard India ... my fave little Indian place up by the Belmont Red Line stop.
Of course, one of the main reasons that I'm as fond of Standard India as I am is that they are one of the few Indian places (that I can easily access) that has a dinner buffet. Their food is exceptional, and if you go there on the weekend they'll have "Butter Chicken" (the bright orange stuff under the fork there). Yum! Back before my car crash (when they ripped open my abdominal cavity with no great subtlety to get to the damaged organs), I would have had 3-4 plates like this ... these days I'm lucky to make it to two.
I'd opted for time-with-The-Girls activities for Sunday ... fortunately, the weather cooperated, possibly offering the last "summer" day of the year. This pic is from a few days prior to that, but I'd copied it over to the computer and was looking for a chance to put it up with something! Many years ago I built a small trellis which fits into a pot on the bottom and have been doing Morning Glories in the dining room. For some reason, last year we had nearly no flowers all summer (a few started coming out in the fall), but this year it's been very active. Living 500ft or so up in the air, it's nice having this one bit of "nature" in the house, and it's always fun to see what's bloomed each day (obviously this pic came about due to the over-achieving of the plant that morning!).
Anyway, as we're scraping along on zero dollars these days, I opted for a free activity, and suggested that we go up to the Lincoln Park Zoo. The LPZ is remarkable in being totally free, a rarity these days, and is an easy shot from our house. It's also one of those "part of my history" things as it was on the route between home and school for me while growing up, and I would frequently re-route a few blocks further east than the direct route to walk home through the zoo back in highschool. I'm sure The Girls will have fond memories of it, but not of quite the same intensity (I'd lived as close as 4 blocks from the zoo when in grade school).
Daughter #2 had gone to the Zoo daycamp this summer, so she was acting as our "unofficial guide", having retained quite a bit of data from that experience. We started at the north end (I needed to get a coffee at 7/11 before heading over, so we went one more bus stop than the one that would have put us at the main entrance), which let the Girls mess around on the Shakespeare statue in the park. #2 wanted also to go to the Conservatory, but I couldn't bring my coffee in, and so we put that off for some other day (that's a GREAT thing to do in the middle of winter, as most of it is kept at pretty "tropical" temperatures).
We spent about three hours covering most of the buildings and exhibits (I was getting a bit gimpy towards the end there), before deciding (mid-afternoon) that it was time to go get some lunch. I'd initially suggested going to R.J. Grunts (the original Lettuce Entertain You place), but when we got there it was pretty clear that we'd end up spending a lot of money just to have burgers and salad bar (I used to love that place as a kid, but their prices have gotten really out of hand), so we decided on a "plan B". I was surprised when The Wife suggested Angela's ... a "taco palace" up Clark St. a bit ... now, I love those sorts of places, and had become familiar with this one back when my Mom was still alive (it's across the street from our dentist's office) and we used to pick up steak tacos when up there. I guess The Wife figured that if my Mom (a serious, professional, foodie) liked the food there, it was OK. So we ended up doing that (no pics, sorry), trying their Al Pastor burritos (Garcia's are much better).
That's pretty much it. We had birthday cake on Saturday night after the Indian food. One of my presents was a box full of nice cheeses and a bit of pate and some fancy olives, so I've been delightedly living off of that all week!