Turning Twenty-Six… with Tacos

In case you were suspicious that my blog was going to turn into an all-out sentimentality-fest with lots of uncomfortable monologues about unconditional love and babies and crap, never fear! I’m back on solid ground with a post about food. Birthday food! By which I mean, tacos. Naturally. I’ll get to them in a second, I promise.

Last Friday, I turned 26. I feel surprisingly neutral about this birthday, even though I’m officially closer to 30 than 20 now. Or maybe I just haven’t had time to stop and think about it – my excitement over Teddy’s birth kinda eclipsed my own mopey musings on aging. But I think I’m okay with 26. It’s a solid number, respectable, even. I feel good about where I am in my life and the people I share it with. And that’s what really matters, right?

Happily, I shared an early birthday celebration with most of my immediate family when I was back in RI. Mom made a batch of these yummy blondies (and gleefully crowed about the secret ingredient when certain family members couldn’t guess what it was), the adults all sang “Happy Birthday,” and Teddy snoozed away. I received gifts from my parents that night and gifts from some other relatives at various points during my visit. It was low-key and lovely – just the way I like it.

On my actual birthday, the 15th, S and I kept it equally low-key. We decided to have dinner at Tex Tubb’s Taco Palace, a taco-centric establishment that we’ve been meaning to visit for a while. We were seated after a short wait, and we promptly ordered drinks – a Shiner for S and a blue agave margarita for me – while perusing the vegan menu. We wanted to order their vegan nachos as a starter, but the waitress abashedly informed us that they were out of vegan queso. Boo! Instead, we got chips and a cute tub of guac.

Squat cast-iron bowl of guacamole topped with diced tomatoes.

Bowl o’ guac.

Yum! This guac was perfect – creamy, simple, and fresh. The diced tomatoes and onions on top (not mixed in!) were a nice touch, and the portion size was perfect for the both of us. Actually, it might’ve been a little large for me – I couldn’t quite finish the two tacos I ended up ordering! I went with the two-taco plate and chose the Avocado Frito (fried avocado, mushrooms, black beans, tomatoes, and red onions on corn tortillas) and the Black Bean Something or Other (no list because it’s not on the online menu, but it was pretty similar to the other one). The platter came with a side of beans (I chose refried) and rice.

Green plate with two fully loaded tacos, a pile of rice, and a scoop of refried beans.

Two-taco plate.

The tacos come sans salsa and mostly sans spice (except for one burning bite in my bean taco – weird!), which lets the eater customize the level of spiciness. This is made easy by Tex Tubb’s salsa bar, which features four different salsas. The spiciest one wasn’t too exciting, the next-spiciest chipotle-ish one was flavorful and yummy, the tomatillo salsa was good, and the mild red salsa was just fine. The tacos themselves were decent, although I’m pretty sure my avocado was not frito and was instead raw. Not that I’m complaining! I prefer the fresher flavors. The beans and rice were simple but tasty. S also got the avocado taco, along with some sort of Roasted Veggie Tostada (yeah, no list here either, but there was lots of corn!)

Magenta plate with an avocado-filled taco and a tostada piled high with veggies.

Pink platter!

S and I both saved one of our tacos for later, and I saved some of my rice and beans, too. They made great leftovers!

Tex Tubb’s is oh-so-conveniently located down the street from The Green Owl, so we swung by there after dinner to pick up desserts for later – a berry-lemon cheesecake for me and a passionfruit cheesecake for S (his was superior). We enjoyed them at home while watching Rise of the Planet of the Apes. All in all, a really great birthday. S gave me some sweet gifts, and I’ll probably blog about a couple of them soon. :)

Now, you might remember that last year, when I turned 25, I gave myself a list of 25 things to accomplish before I turned 26. Full disclosure: I totally failed on a lot of them. But I’m okay with that. Many of the things I didn’t do were the more self-indulgent goals, like making things for myself or getting a tattoo. That stuff will happen eventually, but it’s not as important as the more meaningful goals I did accomplish, like volunteering more often and keeping in better touch with friends. So with that ringing endorsement of my success, here’s my final list:

  1. Pay off a loan. Completed! (I actually paid off two or three smaller ones!)
  2. Sew myself a dress. FAIL.
  3. Blog at least five times a month. Completed! (Or, I’ll complete it at the end of this month.)
  4. Drive in a big city. FAIL.
  5. Send people birthday cards and gifts on time. Completed!
  6. Work out weekly. Completed! (Very proud of myself for this one. I know it’s not much, but it’s consistent, and I’ve never been good at keeping up a consistent workout schedule. I intend to amp it up in the next year!
  7. Learn how to use InDesign. Um… I used InDesign to make the invitations to my sister’s baby shower, but I’m no expert. Not quite completed!
  8. Knit myself a sweater. FAIL.
  9. Do more creative writing. Completed! Nobody will ever read it, but whatever!
  10. Start making Christmas gifts during the summer. Completed!
  11. Make a pie with a lattice crust. Completed!
  12. Re-learn how to crochet. FAIL.
  13. Get another tattoo. FAIL. (Cry!)
  14. Read more poetry. Completed(ish)! I read more than I usually do, so… it counts. ;)
  15. Take the GRE. FAIL. (And I probably won’t.)
  16. Try hot yoga. FAIL. (Stupidly. Would’ve been so easy.)
  17. Start and maintain an Etsy shop. FAIL. (But I’m working on it)
  18. Consistently make some of Moria’s food. Completed! (I had to stop for a while when she had a bladder stone and needed a special diet, but for the most part I’ve augmented her dry food with veggies and/or rice.)
  19. Knit a pair of socks. FAIL.
  20. Call (or write to) far-away family and friends more frequently. Completed!
  21. Visit a new country. Completed!
  22. Do more hands-on volunteering. Completed!
  23. Super-secret private goal! Completed!
  24. Super-secret private goal! This is an ongoing goal. But I made progress!
  25. Super-secret private goal! Errr… nope.

Not great, but not bad. I’m happy with what I accomplished this year. I’ve got some thoughts in mind for how to approach this next year of my life, but I’m keeping quiet on that front for a while. ;)

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