A (Birth)Day Well Spent

I officially turned 28 years old this past Saturday, and while I’m not one who likes to brag or toot my own horn very often in this space, the weekend was too incredibly awesome not to talk about! Very rarely does a man’s birthday fall on a Saturday (1), a day in which we are completely free of the rigors and stresses of the office and classroom…Missy and I both knew that we had to make the most of it.

With Grandma Cindy and Aunt Shannon left in charge of the baby brigade, we headed out {semi} early for one of our Saturday morning favorites: the downtown farmers market! While we have both been to the dtfm a few times this season, our overall attendance has been less than ideal. Even though my last visit was in August with the fam, Missy and I had not been back downtown together since taking the girls in May…crazy talk!

First order of business upon arrival (as always): an iced coffee from Java Joe’s! However, by the time we reached the coffee shop, the cooler temps and crisp autumn breeze had us yearning for decidedly warmer options. So after careful reconsideration, we settled on a “Pumpkin Pie” latte for him and a hot apple cider for her, of which we casually sipped as we made our way to Farm Boy’s Hearty Food Company for our favorite breakfast burritos.

We found an unoccupied bench in the sun to enjoy our meal and people watch {read: people-with-a-cat-stroller watch}. Fall brings a totally different feel to the farmers market. The less oppressive heat and smaller crowds makes for, dare I say, a more enjoyable overall experience. Plus, it goes without saying that the masses were much easier to navigate without pushing two double strollers. Although the girls would have loved seeing the sights, their enjoyment would have been short lived due to their ever-waning toddler attention spans.

After a good hour and a half spent browsing and strolling, we made our way back to the car, where Missy took the wheel chauffeured me off to reveal my birthday surprise. We eventually ended up at a tucked away Urbandale store called “Beer Crazy,” where she let me pick out my very own home brew kit! I’ve mentioned to her plenty of times in the past how crafting my own beer is something that I’d be willing to try out someday…yet I never thought I’d actually get a kit of my own! Beer Crazy has everything required (and more) to get started, and Missy did all the prior research to make sure I got exactly what I needed. Keeper!

I’ve already started to read up on the basics, but it turns out a batch of brew takes at least four weeks to ferment before it’s ready to be consumed. Given how most of my nights now are spent cramming for my upcoming test, it looks like I won’t begin brewing until sometime next month. That said, I’m thinking about commemorating the completion of said exam with a “Pass the PE Pale Ale” or maybe an “Ace the Exam Amber Ale.”

After spending some time in Beer Crazy, we drove around town looking for a new pair of shoes while deciding on a lunch destination. In the end, while unsuccessful in the shoe hunt, we were extremely successful in finding a lunch venue. Wanting to try something new and off the beaten path, we threw our inhibitions to the wind and soon found ourselves and an unheralded Des Moines institution: Hagar’s Manhattan Deli. {A place that’s so old school awesome that there isn’t even a web page to link!}

I snagged that pic from Google Street View just so you can see how incognito this place really is. However, it is a slightly out dated picture…if you’re considering a visit (and I highly recommend that you should), look for this sign:

Seriously, this was the definition of hole-in-the-wall soup & sandwich place…and it. was. perfect. One look at the cash only register, formica table tops, piping hot soups, and never-ending deli meat counter and we knew we made the right decision. Missy ordered the namesake “Manhattan” sandwich, while I enjoyed the Saturday Special of turkey and capicola. We shared a bowl of Wisconsin Cheese soup and left the restaurant 45 minutes later feeling five pounds heavier and utterly satisfied.

We ventured home to play with the babes and relieve Grandma and Aunt Shannon of their duties. The weather was glorious and we spent the afternoon outside playing and poking around on the farm, as per our Saturday M.O.

For the evening, we made an appearance at a family gathering to celebrate the birthday Missy’s aunt Debbie before meeting the crew at Legends for a late dinner and drinks. By the time all were gathered, we had a rowdy crew of over a dozen friends talking, laughing, and cheering our Hawkeyes on to victory!

A good meal, great convo, and Missy’s home made scotcheroo’s were the perfect ending to a perfect day. It was home and in bed by 11:30 (which, by the way, is a super late night for us!) so that we could rest up for the big burn first thing Sunday!

More deets on that to come soon!


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1. This is only the fifth time in my life that it has happened; the others being 1983, 1988, 1994, and 2005. Indeed, I was born on a Saturday. Back

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About Tom Hardinge

Loving husband to my wife Missy, loving father to my four daughters Sienna, Rowan, Jovie, and Lola. I'm a chronic over-packer who loves good coffee, good music, running, waffle tee's, fleece pants, and Jesus Christ!

2 thoughts on “A (Birth)Day Well Spent

  1. Mondays child is fair of face,
    Tuesdays child is full of grace,
    Wednesdays child is full of woe,
    Thursdays child has far to go,
    Fridays child is loving and giving,
    Saturdays child works hard for his living,
    And the child that is born on the Sabbath day
    Is bonny and blithe, and good and gay.
    (I was born on the Sabbath…fyi)

  2. Pingback: Adventures in Home Brewing | living in pursuit

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