Florida: Family, Friends & Fun

A few weeks ago, I traveled to my hometown in South Florida for a very celebratory visit.  In addition to my birthday, my Dad’s birthday, and my Sister’s birthday, there was also a Bridal Shower for me(!).

I confess, this is going to be a pretty self-indulgent post (but that’s okay since it was my birthday… right?), but stay tuned for my next post in which I share some new-to-me South Florida discoveries.

Birthdays

First, it was SO nice to be with my family to celebrate mine & my Dad’s birthdays (born on the same day!) and my Sister’s birthday (4 days later)… even though I had been dreading this particular birthday for YEARS.

Much to my surprise turning 30 wasn’t bad at all.  I used to keep my age pretty hush-hush on the blog and at work, but now that I AM 30, I’ve suddenly stopped caring.  It’s actually pretty cool to be 30 – Old enough to know better, but still young enough not to care :-)

To celebrate, my Mom made a delicious homemade dinner for all of us.  She made a batch of chicken enchiladas for the group, and easily veganized an entire batch for me. My enchiladas were whole wheat tortillas filled with black-beans, onions, green peppers and avocado.  They were SO good and the perfect way to celebrate what was also my 13th Veggiversary.

 After dinner, of course there was cake!  My Dad and I shared a (sorry – not vegan :-() Publix Chocolate Cake, and we had Ice Cream Cake for my sister.

While the dinner & cake was in honor of us birthday-folk, the true star of the meal was my niece Charlotte, of course.  I loved the beautiful aquarium artwork she made for her Mommy. It was also so fun to watch her browse through a cookbook my sister received as a gift.  Charlotte and her Daddy made hilarious YUMMM! sounds every time they turned the page and Charlotte could not stop laughing.  Looks like she’s going to be a Foodie just like her Aunt Di-Di (that’s me :-)).

Home Cooking

In addition to the yummy enchiladas, just like every trip home, I had so many amazing home-cooked meals.

Dad made several batches of his famous oatmeal and I made Mom dig out her not-used-in-a-decade Blender so that I could make plenty of post-gym smoothies.  I loved that Mom even remembered my favorite brand of Soymilk and had it on hand just for me.

Mom also tried out some new recipes in addition to Veganizing more of my old favorites.

She made a Jicama Soup (sort of like this one) that tasted like September – a perfect blend of Summer (crispy Jicama, fresh corn, tart lime) and Autumn (sweet potatoes and warm broth).  It was especially fun to eat because while the sweet potatoes softened up, the jicama remained crispy.

Mom also made a big pot of 15-Bean Soup, using a package of store-bought soup mix, but using her own flavorings instead of the scary highly processed Seasoning packet it came with.  For fun, we also added Tofurkey’s Kielbasa sausages to the soup pot.

Lastly, we had Italian Sausage Sandwiches, using Mom’s traditional recipe, but subbing in Tofurkey’s Italian Sausages for mine.  These were pretty tasty and I am a huge fan of Tofurkey’s products, but I did wish I had spent the extra $2 to get the Field Roast Italian Sausages.  The Field Roast Italian Sausages are still my favorite.

Peaches & Charlotte

Even more heartwarming than Mom’s delicious meals, I can never spend enough time with Peaches (my childhood cat) or Charlotte (my niece).

I actually cried when I saw Peaches this year.  She’s ~18 years old, and her age has really caught up with her.  In fact, I barely recognized her now that she’s several pounds lighter thanks to teeth that hurt and an overactive thyroid.

I felt much better though once I saw that she still has plenty to purr about.  In fact, she purrs louder than ever.  I love that despite her aches and pains, she still loves being alive.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, Charlotte (nearly 4!) was overflowing with youth and energy.   Everything we did was a game, even the photo-shoot below.

We took photos Dancing or in made-up “Yoga” poses like “Turtle” and “Catepillar”, and she took as many pictures of me (which were actually quite good!) as I did of her.

Caterpillar Charlotte

And most fun of all, we did some acting:

Me: “What would be the best surprise ever?”

Charlotte: “A giant truck full of CANDY!!!”

Me: “Okay, now pretend someone just brought you a giant truck full of Candy!!!”

(snap) (snap) (snap)

Thinking… Thinking… Happy Dance!

Me: “What would make you really angry?”

Charlotte: “If my friend took my toy.”

Me: “Okay, now pretend your friend took your toy.”

(snap) (snap) (snap)

While her answers were all pretty simplistic (almost all involved candy or toys), her faces were priceless!

Yeah… the last one is her “angry” face. So cute!

Bridal Shower

I’m not a big “party” person, but I was so happy when my Mom and Sister told me that they wanted to throw me a small Bridal Shower while I was in town.  It turned out to be a really special event including one friend I’ve had since I was 11 years old and a couple of friends that drove a couple of hours each way to be there.  I even had a brand-new friend in attendance, baby Kylie, who slept through pretty much the entire meal!

We had lunch at Seasons 52 at Fort Lauderdale’s Galleria Mall, a restaurant that is great at catering to all sorts of dietary needs.  Their Seasonal Veggie Tasting plate looked so good, I wasn’t the only one that ordered it!

After our entrees, we had a toast with our Mini-Desserts which were divine, but I do wish Seasons 52 had more Vegan options for their desserts.  How could I choose a tiny fruit cup when a (non-vegan) Chocolate Peanut-Butter Mousse was on offer?  I caved and enjoyed every single bite.

Carrie, My Sister, Me, My Mom, Kira, Jamie, Amanda & Heather (not pictured: Sandy)

Since the restaurant was at the Mall, a few of us went shopping after our meal and I really felt like a princess.  Everyone helped me pick out a Rehearsal Dinner Dress (I actually wound up getting two), I spotted my Wedding Dress at Macy’s and modeled it for the group, and I even got my eye-makeup done at Sephora, since there was rumor of a surprise “Bachelorette Party” that night.

“Bachelorette Party”

Honestly, for a long time I’ve been dreading my Bachelorette Party since I’m really much more of an introvert.  So I was incredibly excited when the mystery destination turned out to be (phew!) a restaurant.  We had a late dinner at The Melting Pot and since the restaurant was slow that night, we had an entire room for ourselves for several hours to catch up and celebrate.  It was tame, and I LOVED it.  So tame in fact, that in the pictures below, Baby Kylie is sleeping just out of sight :-)

I’d love to hear from you!

Have you ever been to Seasons 52?

Please tell me I’m not the only one that doesn’t like to ‘party’ :-)