What do long marriages, Ryan Seacrest and the best pizza in America have to do with one another?

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This past week the cover article in New York Magazine was about marriage, which got me thinking about the fact that one of my favorite couples (my brother and sister in law) will celebrate their 35th wedding anniversary this week. This picture above is of the four of us (in the distant past) on the beach in Rhode Island. The article has lots of nuggets of wisdom. I especially liked this quote, “Because there is nothing more divine than being able to say, out loud, “Today, I am really, truly at my worst,” knowing that it won’t make your spouse run for the hills. My husband has seen my worst before. We both know that our worst is likely to get worse from here. Somehow that feels like grace.”

The article is a complete invasion of privacy. I think you’ll like it.

Have you ever wanted to get tickets to see a live TV show in NYC like Late Night With Seth Meyers or Live With Kelly and Ryan or GMA Strahan & Sara? My friend Wendy clued me on how to get tickets, and it worked! I’m happy to share it with my readers. All you need to do is create a profile on this site (with as much info as possible – make sure to add your picture), find a day on the calendar (within the next 30 days) that isn’t sold out, and request tickets – for free! It worked for me the first time. My tickets said to arrive before 9:30 and we arrived 9 and were able to get seats on the main floor. I took my friend Lisa, and we had a fun morning.

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After the show, we were starving. We stopped into David Chang’s Bang Bar in the Time Warner building. Their Korean flatbread sandwiches are delicious and the perfect thing to eat outside while enjoying the beautiful weather.

At 53, I know the skills I have, the ones I want to have, and the ones I don’t and never will. This self-knowledge was never more evident than my attempt Wednesday night to “Escape the Room” at a birthday party for my dear friend Lisa M. It’s just amazing to me to watch how other people’s minds work.

My girlfriends are becoming Grandmas, and it is so fun to watch! I got to facetime with Libby and Little Joanie this week, and I turned in to complete mush. Babies will do that.IMG_6002

Saturday, mid-morning, a flock of Jardines converged at my youngest daughter Annie’s apartment in Philadelphia. We came by plane, train, and bus. Annie watched us as we approached, which I found very 2019.

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The highlight of the Philly 15 hour trip (besides seeing my kids, natch) was by far our experience at Pizzeria Beddia. I’ve been waiting for years to eat Joe Beddia’s pizza, ever since the June 2015 issue of Bon Appetite Magazine naming it the BEST PIZZA IN AMERICA. It’s not that I’m a pizza fanatic. It’s that in the article, Joe mentions his “pizza epiphany” and he and I share that epiphany. It happened circa 2009 (for both of us, but not at the same time) when we first sat down at the ten-seat counter at Savoy – a tiny pizza place in Azabujuban in Tokyo, Japan. It was a game changer for him and me. So his place in Philly has always been on my TO DO list. But I hate to wait. I could never see myself waiting for hours outside for a pie, and at that time, that is what you needed to do to eat his food. AND THEN IT CLOSED. But thankfully it was because he was coming back bigger and better than ever. He opened his new, fabulous restaurant (with seats and a full bar) a few weeks ago. He takes reservations, they are fully booked for a few weeks, but they do keep tables open for walk-ins. The restaurant has an open kitchen surrounded by glass, and we were very fortunate to get the table in front of Joe as he threw the dough!

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I asked our waitress to tell Joe that we were here because we love Savoy too. Ten minutes later he was hanging out at our table, and we were exchanging all our favorite Japanese spots in Tokyo and NYC. He was the sweetest, most humble guy ever. He told us about a new restaurant called Hiroki that was opening up on the same block, and after dinner, he walked us over there to show us.

And the pizza. OMG. Wait, back it up. You need to get all the little starters. The salads are phenomenal – the sausage, the gigantic white beans in lemon and olive oil. It was all amazing. And the pizzas… we ordered four – all different. Watch out for the angry pizza – it’s spicy but so good. We finished the meal with a few different soft serves. Thanks, Joe!

It was a pizza dream.

Have fun. Be bold.

The Brass Nameplate

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Little things can mean so much.

It was just your typical brass nameplate placed haphazardly on a desk, the same as the hundreds of others in the massive open plan office space on the far west side of the city.  But, to me it meant everything. My oldest child Thomas works at Apple in San Francisco. When he first started working there, Tom and I went to visit, and due to the stringent visitation rules, we met him in the lobby, took pictures in front of the Apple logo, and ate in the very impressive cafeteria. I was, and still am, extremely proud, however, when I try to construct a picture in my mind of him at work, things get a little fuzzy.

When my second son Hayden started work in June 2016 in Herald Square, I was thrilled he was so close by, and we would meet every so often for lunch. But, I never saw his desk, or met the people he worked with, and although I was proud, again, I couldn’t picture my boy at work.

This week I got an invite to visit Hayden at his new office, and have lunch in his cafeteria. It seems silly writing this, but seeing that nameplate just meant everything to me. It said that for all intents and purposes, I had done my job. He was a fully formed human, out in the world, responsible for himself and beholden to others. Now, when I get a text from him mid-day, I can picture him in his seat, or walking the long rows of other desks, and even ordering a chopped salad in his cafeteria. I think I’ll insist when next I’m in SF.

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I saw this the other day, and it struck me as pure wisdom. I eat out a lot, but I realize that it matters less what the food tastes like if you are sitting with the right people, and vice versa. #foodforthought

Speaking of #foodforthought, I’d like to invite all my readers to come to one of the most delicious fundraisers in NYC. Wednesday, March 6th at The Lighthouse at Chelsea PiersThe Bronx Letters Foundation will hold it’s annual Chefs’ Tasting Food for Thought Benefit. Chef Eric Ripert of Le Bernardin will be the night’s host, we will celebrate the life of our Patron Saint, Anthony Bourdain who helped us raise funds for our public school in the Bronx for the past ten years, and we will honor our past principal and the current  Senior Education Advisor in the NYC Mayor’s Office, Brandon Cardet-Hernandez.

Some of the best chefs in NYC will be there to cook! You can still buy tickets here. Trust me, this event can cause some of the worst #foodieFOMO.

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I went to see the new Frida Kahlo exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum this week. My tip: buy the timed tickets ahead, and go alone. This exhibit is dense. There is so much to see, and read. It’s the perfect way to spend a few hours to yourself. I discovered a new fabulous app while at the museum. It’s called ASK. Download it on your phone, take a picture of something you see in the museum, and ask your questions directly to the staff sitting in a room in the basement (I asked if it was AI or real people) waiting to answer. The team consists of an archaeologist, and anthropologist, as well as art historians and educators.

And eat in their restaurant, The Norm. The menu is Frida inspired and quite delicious. I first became obsessed with Frida when I read The Lacuna, by Barbara Kingsolver and my fascination continued when I saw Mercedes Ruehl play her at the theater in Sag Harbor a gozillion summers ago. One of my favorite quotes of hers (although I have many), “There have been two great accidents in my life. One was the trolley, and the other was Diego. Diego was by far the worst.”

She was comparing the love of her life to when she was hit by a bus.

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I can taste the spring in the waning winter days. But if it doesn’t come soon, I may purchase one of these.

Go see Network on Broadway. Bryan Cranston is fabulous. I bought the partial view last minute tickets on SeatGeek in Row E for $75, and I was very pleased with my purchase. There are so many monitors on display; you don’t miss much.

I am looking forward to seeing the premiere of the final season of Catastrophe at an upcoming NYTimesTalk. The show is hilarious and authentic. I’m sad that this will be the last season but thrilled to “meet” Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan in person.

One last discovery of the week: Dr. Hilary Brenner! I never needed a podiatrist before I moved to NYC, but walking 5 miles everyday can be a killer on your feet. She takes insurance, her office is a one minute walk from the 4,5 Fulton Street stop, and she’s adorable.

The good news? March begins on Friday. I think we can say we officially made it through another NYC winter.

Have fun. Be bold.

 

 

A Refugee Camp Grows in Brooklyn

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Tom and I went to see The Jungle Friday night at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Dumbo. This original play, hot off the stages of London, is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.        St. Ann’s is known for physically transforming the theater to meet the needs of each play, as well as their ability to make the audience a part of the experience. For this play, a replica of an Afghan Cafe inside an actual refugee camp in Calais, France comes to life. You’ll sit side by side with the residents of the camp, and learn about their journey from war-torn countries to the promised land of the white cliffs of Dover. It is a play that everyone, everywhere should see. But, fair warning, it is not a pretty experience, and you aren’t going to have “fun.”

Before the show we ate at Gran Electrica, a mexican restaurant with a healthy slant. Of course, we chose the most unhealthy of dishes, pork belly tacos, and they were very good. They make a nice spicy marg, and the walk to St. Ann’s is about 4 minutes long, which is ideal when it’s 20 degrees outside.

Do you like pho? I am a huge fan. I love it because it’s a big bowl of noodles, and yet it eats healthier than ramen. This past week I had lunch at Sai gon dep a new restaurant that just opened by the chef of Hanoi House. I went during the soft opening when the menu was limited, but I thoroughly enjoyed their chicken-based pho and spring rolls. I look forward to returning and trying the rest of the menu. It is the perfect antidote to a cold winter’s day and might rival a bowl of chicken soup if you are suffering from a cold.

 

My youngest daughter is days away from returning to college for her second semester of sophomore year, and so we have made it a point to do as much as possible together before she leaves. We had a great afternoon wandering around the meatpacking district, shopping at Story, a retail store that “takes the point of view of a magazine, changes like a gallery and sells things like a store.” They completely reinvent themselves from design to merchandise every four to eight weeks, highlighting new trends. I dare anyone to leave without purchasing something. We had a late lunch at Restoration Hardware in their rooftop restaurant. I’ve written about this spot before, and I said it was meh, however, if you go with a Generation Z young adult, it looks more impressive through their eyes. I took her to the new Camp on 5th avenue, because even though she’s 19, and Camp is really for humans under the age of 10, I knew she would love it. It’s hard to describe, but if you have a young child in your life, you need to go and make sure you try the edible bubbles.

We also passed by the new Starbucks Roastery Reserve, which is unlike any other Starbucks. It is on my short list to return. We found this gorgeous creature in the window as we walked by.

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Saturday night we returned to Brooklyn (yes, twice in one weekend) to meet friends for dinner at Frankies Spuntino. The last time I was there, it was a tiny hall of a restaurant with a fabulous garden. The tiny spot still exists (for walk-ins), but the reservations are now seated down the block in the old Prime Meats location. It’s a beautiful space, and the menu is the same as I remember. We enjoyed our meal, despite the significant flooding in the kitchen. They kept calm and carried on.

From there we went to “the” spot to sing karaoke in Brooklyn, The Old Carriage Inn in Park Slope. Judging by the talent in the crowd, and the wait to sing a song (2 hours) I’d say it is definitely the place to go. Just make sure you get there early if you want to sing. We stayed for a few beers and sang along with the ringers.

On Tuesday, when Annie leaves for school, our apartment will return to empty nest status…at least for a month or two – having her home this past month has been a gift.

Have fun. Be bold.

 

Up Your Spontaneity Quotient

In this Sunday’s NY Times (aka my activity bible), I read an article in the travel section entitled How To Up The Spontaneity Quotient On Your Next Trip. This spoke to me because truth be told I am a planner and have been guilty of overplanning. But I am always looking for the middle ground, the happy medium between not missing out on the “must do, eat, see” things, and finding that hidden local place that you’ll think about for years to come. Reading the article also made me think about my everyday life in NYC. I subscribe to oodles of websites and receive emails all day every day informing me of the “next best everything,” and these emails inform my decisions. But I also spend time wandering unknown neighborhoods snapping pictures of places I want to return to the next time I’m nearby. I am going to make it a goal of mine to consciously practice deliberate spontaneity by going on more “missions” and talking to more people I don’t know.

Monday I had lunch at Pastaio di Eataly, the new restaurant addition to the flagship Eataly on 23rd Street. I’m a fan of eating at the bar, and this is one long bar that curves around a butcher block where fresh pasta is made. It’s like watching art. Everything was fabulous.

Have you been to the Museum of the City of New York? I’d never been, but after my visit last week I will return. I went to see an exhibit called Rebel Women. It was fascinating! Turns out there were female badasses all the way back to the early 1800’s. The museum has a fabulous gift shop that changes 1/3 of their offerings with every exhibit. I spent just as much time in the shop as in the museum, and I managed to cross off a few Christmas gifts on my list. Walking from the museum on 5th Avenue and 103rd, I found the end of Park Avenue at 96th street. It stopped me in my tracks.

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I love my book club. It was started about a year ago when I moved back to the city, and a friend and I decided to start one. I’ve always found community when sitting with a glass of wine in my hand and a book as the basis of discussion. Our book club is a day time event, and the host changes every month. If you host, you pick the book and you serve what you like. This month, the book was a controversial choice, Undone. The host chose it because she is good friends with the author, John Colapinto and he agreed to join us (hence the change to evening) for a glass of wine and a spirited discussion. John is a well-known established non-fiction writer, and this book was a diversion from his typical subject matter. I felt a little sorry for him as we discussed the book for an hour before he arrived – it was almost like he was thrown to the wine-soaked wolves. Without turning this blog into a book review, I’ll say that John’s a great writer and I kept turning the pages. You might want to read for your self…

I just want to say again how I, along with every other NYC resident and transit employee was NOT READY for this.

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I know there are a million poke spots in NYC, but I will walk way out of my way to eat here. If you find yourself in Chelsea, check out Wisefish Poke.

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Saturday night we booked a table with friends at the Cafe Carlyle a classic NYC institution. The last time Tom and I had been, Bobby Short was alive and tickling the ivories. Bemelman’s Bar was packed, and there wasn’t an empty seat in the house. There was a ton of glam, vat-sized martinis, and the show was great.

I’m typing this blog as I wait for Amazon Fresh to deliver all my Thanksgiving needs (they are now officially 3 hours and 20 minutes past the deadline and say they won’t deliver) but my refrigerator is spotless and mostly empty, waiting for the arrival. My kids fly and train into the coop tonight, but I have reserved a very fun double bunk room for the four of them at the Freehand Hotel (a five-minute walk from the apartment), so there will be no dirty towels left on the floor of my guest bathroom. I think they are pretty excited to bunk up together too.

I wish you all a very festive feast, and hopefully, there won’t be too much discussion around your table about politics and climate change, because those will only ruin your appetite. Take a break from the negativity for a bit and enjoy all the good things that bring you and the people you share your meal with together.

Have fun. Be bold.

 

A Fabulous Fall Week Before the Week Before Thanksgiving

 

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This weekend was homecoming at UPenn where my youngest child Annie is studying to be a nurse (she’s on the left). My middle daughter Sophie attends FIT in NYC and studies Fashion Business Management. A lot of thought, preparation, sweat, worry, and MONEY went into helping them find their way to college. Which had me thinking about the college essay night I hosted on Thursday at Bronx Academy of Letters. Each year we gather friends and colleagues to work with the high school seniors on their common application essay. Our school is public, located in the 15th congressional district (the poorest in the United States), and almost all our students are first gen kids without a parent at home that can show them the college process ropes. Imagine that? Imagine if your children had only themselves and an overburdened college counselor to rely on to get them into college? It’s one of the most unequal playing fields in the US, and yet getting a college education can make the most significant difference in whether or not a kid can break the cycle of poverty.  It is vital that the stories these kids tell be heard by someone other than a college admissions officer.

It was a great fall week in NYC, unseasonably warm which gave me an added sense of carpe diem because I know that WINTER IS COMING. I had lunch at a great new spot in the LES called Hunan Slurp. I love the name as well as everything I slurped. The owner was a painter for twenty-five years, and his food is an extension of his art as is the space -it’s gorgeous.

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Tom and I went to The Big Apple Circus in Lincoln Center’s Damrosch Park after work last week. It was a gorgeous night, and it seemed like a fun last minute thing to do (thank you Play By Play Seat Filler) We weren’t sure if the circus holds up without kids, but it definitely does. We were shocked and amazed by the dazzling feats of craziness. We also enjoyed the Big Top Bar margaritas (the bar is conveniently located next to the face painting.) That’s Tom on the right, trying his hardest to scare little kids – it didn’t work, strangely only the adults noticed.

I would be remiss without mentioning the dinner I had after essay night at Jacobs Pickles on the UWS. It’s not new, I’ve been several times, but not recently. The food hasn’t changed (it is still fantastic with ridiculously large portions) however the music and the sound level is now deafening. I don’t think I can go back at night again. I don’t enjoy screaming at my friends while eating. I’m not a great iPhone photog, but I had to post a picture of the meatloaf smothered in fried onions with mashed potatoes and a biscuit. Hayden (second son) ate it all.

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I apologize that this post is entirely out of order, but I promise it all happened (no fake news here). Friday I arrived early in Philly and met up with my number one child (in birth order only of course). He lives in SF, and I couldn’t remember the last day we spent together alone. I had him all to myself, and it was incredibly fun. We started with lunch at Butcher Bar and then braved the downpour to visit the Constitution Center, which was fabulous. There is a hi-tech theater in the round with an interactive show that lasts about 30 minutes which brings back everything you learned and then sort of forgot, but maybe you didn’t, about the beginning of our country. After the show, you walk in a circle around the building starting with the first section of the constitution until you get to the last, with all the amendments and a repeal (thank God for the 21st – I’ll drink to that) laid out in order with explanations. The big reveal at the end of the visit is a replica of the signing room with the founding fathers, life-size in brass.

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From there we went WAY out of our way to visit the oldest confectioner’s shop in the United States. Ye Olde Candy shop aka Shane’s Candies. I was in search of these, which I wanted to buy for Christmas, but I was too early in the season. So instead I left with a lot of these. They make everything on site and offer once a week tours on Friday at 6:30 pm and it sells out. Next time.

It’s time to put together my Thanksgiving To Do List. Ina Gartner said it’s the secret to a stress-free Thanksgiving. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha… Ina has no kids.

Have fun. Be bold.

Fall Break

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As an empty nester, I try to make a big deal when one of my kids comes home for the weekend. Lucky for me, two of them live in NYC, so when we are joined by a third or a fourth, it’s cause for a bit of a celebration. This weekend, the youngest came home from college and, in an unusual turn of events, I had them mostly to myself. Tom was teaching at Columbia Thursday, Friday and Saturday and so there was time for serious #mombonding.

Thursday night we went to dinner at Bistro Pierre Lapin a new French bistro that was on my short list. Even though it opened only a few months ago, it has the ambiance of a favorite spot that’s been around forever. The first thing we noticed when we walked by were the real tapers on each table. It hit me that it’s been a long time since I’ve eaten by real candlelight and how much I miss it. The menu has all the French bistro favorites you’d expect and many unexpected choices as well. The ravier, an overflowing tray of small vegetable dishes served tableside is impressive, as are the Plats D’Accompagnement – five out of the nine are potato based. We chose the truffle fries and the pomme aligot – a potato puree with cheese, also served tableside.

It was divine and unlike anything I’ve ever had. The meal was over the top delicious and extremely high in calories, but it was worth it.

Friday night we celebrated Tom’s upcoming birthday at one of our favorite bars, Sel Rrose. I was able to reserve a large table and invite friends to join in the celebration. The cocktails and the oysters are the focus at this corner spot on Delancey and the Bowery. I also brought two boxes of doughnuts from Dough to blow out candles. It was the icing on the evening. Oh, and just in case you didn’t know, skin is in. IMG_3938

Saturday brunch was at Nur. I’ve been to Nur several times for dinner (it’s two doors down from my apartment and serves excellent middle eastern food), but they just started serving brunch. All three of my kids were recently in Israel and are now huge fans of the food. The brunch is prix fixe and begins with their sesame bagel (large enough for four) with varied mezzes, and then proceeds to shakshuka and an egg stuffed pita and ends with a small dessert. We rolled out of there in desperate need of a long walk.

Saturday night we were craving Asian and went to our new favorite sushi restaurant Kanoyama. It’s authentic and feels like a place you would find in Tokyo. The fish is very fresh, but the prices are very reasonable. It’s always packed, but they take reservations between 5:30 and 7. After that, it’s first come first wait. And because we were in the neighborhood, we stopped in at Sundaes and Cones our neighborhood ice cream paradise.

Tonight I’m cooking, and the smallest child’s request is for Bulgogi. I’m off to HMart to buy the ingredients for Korean “fire meat.”

Tomorrow we diet.

Have fun. Be bold.

 

 

Hot Sweaty Mess

Summer in the city is comprised of many short jaunts from one air conditioned venue to another, intermingled with cold showers. It hasn’t stopped me from getting out, and doing interesting and delicious things, but I have to admit my steps are down and my Arro, Uber, and Lyft payments are way up. I tell myself the fall is coming, and this too shall pass, but until then I”m going to keep eating Kakegori (photo below) and drinking very cold rose (I have been to the Rose Mansion twice this summer.)

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I’ll admit that I’ve thumbed my nose at vegans. I’m an “everything in moderation” girl, and that applies to food as well. But my sister (a vegan) recently made a reservation at Avant Garden and if this is vegan, I’m a convert. It was honestly one of the best meals I’ve had this year. I have no idea how they do it. It’s magic. You don’t miss anything!

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One of the best things about living in Flatiron is the farmer’s market that comes to Union Square four times a week (M,W,F,S). I try to buy things just at their peak and then do something with them. Below was my take on an apricot tart. It was gone by the following day.

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Friends from Tokyo who now live in Australia who this past spring won a Tony for Once on This Island, have invested in a new show and Tom and I went to see it on Broadway. It is a very fun night! I recommend it for all ages (well, maybe late teens as there is a song called “I Slept With Your Mom”).

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Lucky us, we snagged a table at Danny Meyer’s newest hotspot, Manhatta. It’s way downtown in FiDi (rhymes with RyeGuy) on the 60th floor and from the moment we walked in I felt like I was at the reincarnation of Windows on the World (in it’s heyday). The views are unparalleled and every table has one. The big difference being the service, which is extremely friendly and not stuffy or formal. The $75 prix fix (service included)    3 course meal is a bargain considering there is lobster, steak and soufflé to choose from.  This is the perfect place to go to celebrate something big.

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It’s college application season, which means I’m working, a lot. Somehow teenagers all seem to send their essays at the exact same time even though I’ve been sending reminder emails for days. I was happy to be invited back this week to the  Anything Goes With Kim Berns radio show. You can listen to the link (August 2nd) if you have a student who is applying to college this fall – I give good tips! And if you are interested in having me help out, you can reach me on my website: ExpatEssay. (You don’t need to be an expat to use my services.)

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And lastly, the week ended with a 21st celebration for my daughter Sophie up on our roof with 50 of her closest friends. We served tacos from Otto’s Tacos and lots of margaritas and Tecate. Oh what a night!

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