30 Before 30: First Class!

We took our trip back from NYC in style– with an upgrade to first class!

Sittin’ in the fancy seats!

OK, the flight from JFK to PIT is a short one and on a regional jet, so the difference in quality between first class and coach wasn’t that much, but we had celebrated a little too enthusiastically at the wedding, and were in no state to be stuffed into stiff little chairs.

I only fly about 6 times a year.  When I started plotting out my 30 before 30 list, I quickly learned that “fly first class” would be trickier than I imagined.  I don’t fly often enough to get any kind of courtesy upgrade, and buying first class tickets would mean paying out the nose (No, I will NOT pay $500 to fly RT to New York).  You can request to purchase an upgrade at the gate, but flights these days are usually SO full that none are available. And a very grouchy clerk at one airline barked at me “NO, WE DO NOT SELL UPGRADES. EVER.” Yeeesh, lady!

When we first approached the podium and requested to purchase an upgrade on our flight home, there was only 1 first class seat left.  Mr. Beez graciously offered to buy it for me.  Then, it turned out that 2 people didn’t show, and so we wound up getting to sit together in first.

So this is my summary of my experience in first class: I got to drink tea out of a real cup. They gave me a cookie.  The chairs were a bit more comfortable than in coach.  That’s about it.  It was certainly nicer than coach, and I’ll keep pestering those gate clerks about the availability of upgrades, but I’m not going to pay double for any first class fare.


The cutest wedding in the history of all weddings!

Although we did fit in a little vacation time, the purpose of our trip to New York was to attend the wedding of our friends Jen and Tom.  Jen is an incredibly talented and creative artist– musically, visually, she masters it all!  Their wedding was so charming and so FUN.  Also, the food- DELICIOUS. They had these amazing passed appetizers, and then a family style dinner of Peking Duck with lentils, short ribs with rice, and fish with vegetables. SO GOOD.

We sat next to Jen’s friend (whose name escapes me), who sewed her amazing wedding dress, and dance skirt! I spent the whole dinner lavishing him with praise for his talents, he was swimming in it.  He, and all the other guests, were super friendly and approachable, which made this wedding extra-fun!

He did ask me if we have horses in Pittsburgh. I told him there are horses in the ‘burbs, but we do know how to drive cars here. I don’t think he believed me.

These two can’t get any cuter! Jen serenaded Tom, and then he joined her onstage for a duet so adorable I almost died of the cute!  Going to one of Jen’s comedy shows is more what I had in mind in my 30 before 30 goal of seeing her perform, but with my schedule between now and November, it looks like that might not happen. But Jen DID perform here, so I’m counting this!

The beautiful Manhattan view from the rooftop deck!

They had a fantastic DIY photobooth, using an iPad!



The Big Apple: Per Se

I have probably looked forward to dining at a Michelin-rated restaurant more than any other item on my 30 before 30 list. I ticked this one off the list this weekend, with an unforgettable visit to Thomas Keller’s Per Se. Per Se is everything everyone says it is, and more. Anyone who gives this restaurant anything less than 5 stars is the kind of person who can never be fully happy, and will always manage to find some little blemish in an otherwise perfect experience.  Per Se is perfection.  It was blissful, and in a way sad.  After that meal was over, I realized that that was that.  I have experienced the pinnacle of my dining experience.  No other meal will ever compare.  Even if I go back there for another visit, a second meal won’t live up to the magic and surprise of the first visit.

Mr. Beez and I excited for this adventure!  Our friend, Anthony, joined us but he was busy taking the picture.

We fully expected the servers to be pompous and judgmental. They weren’t.  They were friendly and joking, and perfectly attentive without being pushy.  We had FIVE people waiting on us– constant, but unobtrusive.  The wine list is loaded on an iPad…it had to be 50 pages long. I have an experienced palate for cheap wine. I was completely lost on this.  Amongst crowds of wines $900-$15,000, I managed to find the “cheap-o” wine at $100.  There wasn’t going to be a thing on that list that disappointed this girl, who rarely drops more than $12 on a bottle ($15 if I’m feeling fancy).  I have no idea what the wine was that we picked. But it was fantastic. Because this is Per Se and that’s how things are.

At Per Se:

MY PURSE HAD ITS OWN CHAIR. Not like an empty chair at the table, a teeny tiny little stool JUST FOR A PURSE. I couldn’t take a better picture because I would have had to crouch down on the floor and that would just look too weird. (For the record, the girl at the next table over was taking pictures of everything TOO.)

I truly don’t have the vocabulary to describe Per Se.  The first bite of each dish took my breath away, and I could only muster a “This is really good .”  There are so many adjectives to describe a sublime meal. None of them worked for me here.  All I could think to say, with each and every of the 9 courses (and then some) was “This is really good.” 

A description of each course would fall flat in comparison to the taste and texture.  The pictures are the best substitute I can offer.

This was the first dessert of FIVE consecutive desserts.  First was this cheese and sweets plate, then a raspberry parfait, then we had chocolate layer cake (Anthony opted instead for a grapefruit concoction), then they brought over a tin of macarons and other sweets, THEN a waiter came by and offered us truffles and fancy chocolates from this enormous, exquisite box of chocolates (I forgot to take a picture of that part), and THEN they even sent us home with a little bag of candies.  FIVE DESSERTS. IN A ROW. FIVE.

Ok, so this one isn’t a dessert. It’s just the sugar for my coffee. But even the presentation for that was impressive.

And here we are, fat and happy, at the end of our long and DELICIOUS evening.


Fancy Stationery

Getting fancy personalized stationery and sending lovely letters to friends is on my 30 before 30 list.  At first I was hoping to go for some exquisite, high-end Crane stationery, but then I discovered that the pattern I like starts at $480.00 for 25 cards. NOPE.

I then decided to go with something more realistically priced.  I was considering Minted and Tiny Prints, and ultimately decided to go with the latter because I had ordered other invitations and products from them before (including Mr. Beez’ and my wedding invitations) and was very very pleased with their quality and service.

The stationery arrived yesterday, and I’m so pleased with it.  The cards are smaller than I anticipated, but I would have had an idea of the dimensions if I actually bothered to read the dimensions in the listing.

I considered not sharing photos of the stationery here, because it is printed with my full name.  However, anyone with a rudimentary ability to use Google can figure out my real name.  I don’t do a very good job of hiding behind this “BeezusKiddo” business.

I love the striped backs of the cards, but I’m not too keen on the Tiny Prints logo on the back.  I later realized that I should have called and asked if they could make the cards without the logo.  They have really great customer service, and it very well may have been a possibility if I would have just asked.

Time to write some letters!


Our Month Without Take Out

One of my 30 before 30 goals was to go a month without buying carry out. January was my month for this goal.  I put in an exception for planned outings with friends, since most of my social activities involve food or drinks.  Without that exception, it would be a long and lonely month.  Of course, the exception overwhelmed the rule.  In the course of the month, I participated in ten planned meal outings–outings coordinated in advance, with friends, and in a real sit down restaurant.

Despite the numerous restaurant meals (you can only imagine how many more this would have been in a typical month where carry out was allowed), Mr. Beez and still saved a good chunk of cash.  We made sure that when we went to the grocery store, we picked up plenty of cans of soup, microwave meals, and other quick fix options.  None of these are ideal meal choices, but a can of Campbells is still much cheaper and healthier than yet another fried rice dinner.  (I’m not claiming canned soup is healthy, it’s a block of salt, I know that…it’s just better than having a million meals of carry out).

What I learned in January had nothing to do with food.  It was a month of learning that “Good Enough is the New Perfect.”  At the end of the month I wondered if I should do a do-over, and make myself have a full month of no restaurant food whatsoever.  I realized that that doesn’t fit with our family’s rushed lifestyle. Even if it meant I finished the month a few pounds lighter and with a few more bucks in my pocket,  I would have spent the month stressed, without seeing my friends, and unhappy.  I did the best I could, I’m carrying practices from that month over to the rest of my life (I bought 17 cans of soup at the grocery store this week), and I’ve accepted that even though I didn’t get a “perfect score” it is still OK.