I entered the "upper 20s" on Saturday and the only plan I made for the day was to go on a little scavenger hunt to cash in some coupons for free birthday stuff. It sounds silly, but it ended up being a good time. I gathered a few friends and we were off, with our first stop at Noodles & Company.
This was my first time at Noodles & Company, and honestly, the only reason I was there was because I had a coupon for a free bowl. I did my research in advance, though, and was impressed to find very thorough nutrition and allergen info on their website. They even had a little section for their vegan dishes, and they served rice noodles, too. Perfect!
For any Sriracha lovers out there, you'll be happy to read that there was a bottle of it on every table in the joint.
I ordered the Indonesia Peanut Sauté with tofu. It was lovely!
The ultra-crispy bean sprouts and fresh cilantro were my favorite components of this meal.
It was also a lovely meal to photograph.
The weather was also lovely and we strolled around Zona Rosa for awhile...
(Ah! There's our chauffeur!)
eventually stopping at Coldstone Creamery to cash in my free "Like It"-sized dessert. I was happy to find that they had THREE different sorbets to choose from. I went with mango-strawberry-banana with graham cracker crumbs mixed in.
The sorbet was okay, but it was really just a vehicle for the graham cracker crumbs.
A little more strolling, and then we headed to On the Border.
I had a coupon for free queso dip (obviously not vegan), but I handed that over to my (non-vegan) friends and enjoyed an overpriced blood orange margarita instead. (I think I came out on top with that trade.)
Next, we were whisked away to Crown Center to check out the free John Lennon art exhibit. (John Lennon and I do share a birthday, after all.)
No photography allowed inside the exhibit. It was a collection of sketches and ink drawings by John Lennon. If I was a super Beatles fan, I would have been more excited. Some of the works were really cute, though. They were all outrageously expensive, though, especially considering they were all reproductions.
Next, a quick stop at Caribou Coffee to cash in on a free drink. It was so hard to decide, but I knew I wanted to try something new. I went with the iced cinnamon rooibos tea. I can never remember how to pronouce "rooibos," so I just called it Roy Orbison tea. Close enough.
Verdict: not great. I ordered it because I thought it would be similar to hibiscus tea, which I love so much, but this actually just tasted like sipping weak tea with cinnamon gum in my mouth. The cinnamon was overpowering, and I just don't like cinnamon that much. Oh well.
Our last coupon for the evening brought us to Mimi's Cafe, which ended up being a bad experience due to, in a nutshell, our condescending server telling us exactly what he thinks of people who don't eat meat, and it wasn't very nice. We spoke to a very understanding supervisor, though, and that's all I will say about that.
The rest of the evening was spent with a surprise visit from a dear friend who was originally out of town for the weekend, but ended up being IN town due to car trouble (which is not so great). However, she threw an impromptu camp-out in the middle of nowhere (seriously - it was a little creepy to get there) and we had a fabulous time around the little campfire.
Naturally, the lighting was terrible/non-existent, but I do have a few pictures to share of the cast of characters (minus the birthday girl because I didn't take a picture of myself. Oops!).
And here's a little glimpse of the delicious mulled cider, heated over some flaming charcoal with love, by the hostess. (Seriously, if you want something mulled, she's your girl.)
I'm usually pretty weird about birthdays. I often feel like there's too much pressure to make it eventful or memorable or whatever. This birthday was great because it took little effort, I tried lots of new things (and for free), and I spent it with some lovely people. And it was certainly memorable.