Delicious birthday chocolate with our friends

Birthday cannoli cake!
With two-time world champion Mao Asada
Dinner in Kyoto with real geishas!

August 17 was my 18th birthday. I have crossed the threshold into adulthood! The celebration really began the week before, with a surprise gift of tickets, for Carly and I, to the Taylor Swift concert at Soldier Field. A big thank you to our friends at Pandora for thinking of us! They sent a car to pick us up and then return us home after the concert. That was definitely the way to go considering it was a sold out concert for 50,000 people. The traffic was crazy! I'm so glad we didn't have to drive in it ourselves.

The concert was awesome! Austin Mahone and Ed Sheeran opened for her and they were great. Taylor rocked it! She was so interactive and seems to really love what she does. I've always been a fan, but now even more so!

The night before our actual birthday, we celebrated with some friends at a great little sushi place. We split a beautiful little chocolate creation to finish off the evening. Good friends, good food, and good times!

The next morning we had to get up pretty early, in spite of it being our birthday. (Early morning Saturday ice is just a way of life in a skater's world.) But, as soon as we got off the ice, there was another celebration waiting! This time we had a cannoli cake. It consisted of a very large cannoli pastry filled with smaller cannoli. These were a mixture of chocolate chip and pistachio. The entire thing was decorated with roses made from frosting. It was both delicious and remarkable. Our skating friends brought in other goodies to share, most of it representing food from other cultures. There was Übe ice cream, which is a Filipino specialty. Übe is a kind of yam and the ice cream is a bright purple. Truly amazing. Then, continuing in that vein, there were some Korean chocolate pastries, filled with sweet potatoes! These were also surprisingly delicious. Another friend made us sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaves, my favorite dish when I have Dim Sum.

Now, I realize that sounds pretty indulgent for a competitive skater. Let me reassure you that we counter balanced our intake with some fairly aggressive activity. We sped up to Lake Geneva, in Wisconsin, for an afternoon of zip lining in the Ash forest. Okay, it wasn't all that aerobic, but there were some pretty steep climbs. It was a wonderful afternoon for our family to be together. The last time we'd gone zip lining was in Costa Rica when we were 8. This wasn't quite as thrilling as zipping down the Continental Divide, but very beautiful and fun. We finished up with dinner in the city. This time we went for Asian fusion in a cool little bistro. It lived up to its Yelp recommendation and provided a perfect finish for our evening. Here's to 18 years on the planet!

Back to skating...I was honored to be invited to participate in Mao Asada's show, The Ice. I flew to Nagoya, Japan, on Sunday, July 21. We had rehearsals on Monday and Tuesday with performances on Wednesday and Thursday, before traveling to Osaka and three more shows. This was just such an incredible experience for me! Besides the Japanese choreographer, Miki, Jeffrey Buttle also choreographed and skated. They were both fantastic — so creative and positive! I was a little nervous at the beginning, but they went out of their way to help me feel comfortable. The numbers were all great. Kaitlyn Weaver, Mirai Nagasu and I performed to a song called “Fashion Monster.” It's a popular Japanese song and the audience loved it! We got to wear crazy outfits complete with neon leg warmers and tinted pink sunglasses. It was a blast! The ladies number was to “Bom Bom” and it was also amazing. We all wore really cute pink tops with black booty shorts. The choreography was great and we rocked it! The men's number was more somber but truly fantastic! They only wore one skate and wore a tennis shoe with spikes on the other foot. Watching the rehearsals, I had my doubts, but Jeffrey really knew what he was doing. The finished product was breathtaking. It was thrilling to be a part of such a talented cast.

Several of the skaters debuted their new programs for the season, which were great to see. Mao's short is beautiful and perfect for her. The Japanese fans are so appreciative and generous; it's just a pleasure to perform for them. The Shibutanis filmed their latest video during the tour. It's called “One More Sandwich” and it's super funny. I have so many great memories from the trip, but one truly unforgettable evening was a dinner in Kyoto. We watched and interacted with real geishas! The food was delicious and the ambience unbelievable! I will always remember that night!

I returned home and jumped immediately back to work. I was a little jet-lagged, but so inspired for this upcoming season. In my next blog, I’ll share all about my end-of-August skating adventures like Gracie Gold Day and the famous Champs Camp!