Don't be fooled. Inside this thin coating of sweetness is a fiery core of total insanity.

Monday, December 29, 2014

My Birthday Adventure

I celebrated a birthday recently. I won't say the number, but it doesn't start with a 6. Not yet, anyway. The celebration lasted for two days, and the reason was because Nigel asked if I wanted to go to a special restaurant for my birthday. I did, but it wasn't actually open on the day, so we had to put our special meal off till the next day.

When I came downstairs on the day there was a wrapped present waiting for me on the kitchen table, with a lovely, sweet card. Inside the wrappings was a book about gardens in the Pacific Northwest. Some of them I've been to, but there are lots of entries in this book about gardens I've not visited yet. I wasn't expecting a present, so it was a nice surprise.

I had to drive Nigel to work, so after opening the gift and the card we both hopped in the car so I could drive Nigel to the train station. For a gardener, no birthday is complete unless there's plants involved, so I spent a leisurely hour or so down at Windmill Nursery, where I bought an Australian tree fern called Alsophila australis (also called Cyathea australis). I had an Amazon Local coupon for Windmill, which allowed me to buy it for $20 off. Since the actual price was $49.99, that means I got it for $29.99, which I think was a good deal.

Australian tree fern out in the greenhouse

Also called rough fern, because of the rough, furry nature of the fronds

Perhaps hard to see, but there is a new frond sitting in the center getting ready to unfurl

The next day I met Nigel after work in Seattle at the Fairmont Olympic hotel, where we had a luscious dinner at The Georgian, followed by an overnight stay in an executive suite at the hotel.

Thirty-foot tall Christmas tree in the hotel's lobby

While waiting for Nigel to arrive mid-afternoon, I had a latte and a piece of cake at the Belle Epicurean, a Parisian-style patisserie in the hotel. The cake was delish, but the following morning I had something at the bakery even better for breakfast -- an almond and raspberry croissant. Holy Moly! That was good.

This Santa was waiting in the lobby, and every time the doors opened, the paper list would flutter

Nigel disagreeing with Santa on his "naughty" status.

Dinnertime approaches!

The entrance to The Georgian

Dinner menu

Nigel's Black Cod with squid ink risotto and vodka foam

My duck breast with black trumpet mushrooms, lentils and baby turnip

I haven't had duck in years, even though I adore it. Over the last few months I've been following a very strict diet of fish, vegetables, no sugar and no simple carbs. So this meal was quite special.

Nigel looking very Christmas-y

The birthday girl -- big smile because I'm waiting for a black and white souffle for dessert!

And now, after a birthday and all the excesses of Christmas eating, it's time once again to go back to an austere way of eating. It was nice while it lasted!


  1. I'm sure a little treat now and again could sneak in and won't harm :) your Birthday adventure looks fabulous Alison, and the food you guys had looks so scrumptious! Glad to see it was wonderful!

  2. Happy birthday, Alison! Looks like a fun 2 days! I hope you'll give us a review of that book. Looks interesting. Nice buy with that tree fern. That one grows faster than Dicksonia antarctica, though, so it will take up room in your greenhouse fast! I've been toying with the idea of a diet like what you're doing. I think it's time to commit!

  3. What a marvelous festive birthday you had! Nigel speaking with Santa is priceless.

    The tree fern is beautiful. I love the shaggy stems.

    I scrolled up and down, savoring as much of the celebration as I could. You both look wonderful. Happy New Year.

  4. Allison that was a wonderful birthday! So nice Nigel took you out for this superb dinner and the Garden Tour book, lovely reading and visiting.
    Wish you a Healthy, Happy and Good Gardening Year for 2015!

  5. Wow, a book, a plant, and a special dinner. That was a good birthday. The dinner looks amazing.

  6. Looks like a wonderful celebration, Nigel certainly takes the good husband award. I love that tree fern and would have jumped at the chance to take it home, nice score!

  7. What a nice series of photos. Brought a smile to my face to see such happy people. I'm glad you shared this date with us.

  8. Happy birthday! Sounds like you had a wonderful time. I just spent a week in the Florida Keys and rumor has it I ate way too much key lime pie. Back to Saladtown for me...

  9. Way to splurge with your handsome date...guess it really does pay off when you can be such a nice spouse all year. Happy Birthday!

  10. Happy birthday Alison! I'm glad you had a great 2-day celebration. Now you can start working your way through the spots to visit identified in the book, which surely signifies the beginning of a wonderful year.

  11. Yowsa, what a cool birthday celebration! You both look so good! Love everything about your special days from earthy to elegant, you sure did it up right! That tree fern - sigh... And a dinner is such a grand venue - very special. Happy birthday dear friend!

  12. You look GREAT! I remember when you were pondering about what to do with your hair. I love what you did. What a fun birthday. Birthdays were meant to be a celebration. Congratulations and what fun. Happy Birthday and I wish you a happy healthy new year! Thank you for sharing.

  13. Happy birthday to another December baby. And mine didn't start with a 4, yet. ;)
    Looks like a perfect celebration was had.

  14. That was quite the grand birthday celebration! I would like to see a copy of that book to see what I've missed. I'll have to look for it.

  15. Happy birthday! What a way to celebrate. That tree fern is spectacular. I also had the few days of Christmas parties and December birthdays leading to more indulgence than usual. Phew! A big-ol plate of veggies never sounded so good. Cheers!

  16. Happy Birthday! What a grand way to celebrate! That Christmas tree must have been spectacular--the desserts (and duck) sound delish.

  17. What a nice birthday celebration. Happy birthday!

  18. You look beautiful and happy, Alison! And your personal Santa too!
    All the best to you and your garden in 2015!
    That Australian tree fern got himself a fine greenhouse for a home! I never was able to overwinter my tree ferns. Yours will love his new residence!

  19. Happy birthday Alison. What a wonderful celebration. I am very envious about that gorgeous tree fern.

  20. A fabulous dinner for one fab lady....and I love the presents especially the fern.


Gardening is a solitary activity. But blogging about it is a social phenomenon! I don't make money from my blog by advertising, or use it to drive customers to a business. If you liked my post, or my writing or photography, or even just one picture or turn of phrase, I'd love to hear from you. That's how I get paid.