The Big 3-0

A bunch of you have been asking how turning thirty was for me, so I’ll take a break from painting something (yes, there is paint going on a formerly untouched bathroom wall! wahoo!) to admit that Monday was a really nice day. So far thirty is all good. And I don’t feel a day over 29. Hah. My theory is that every birthday sort of feels like not much has changed since I wake up feeling the same way I did the morning before. By comparison, I always feel older when life events happen (graduating college, getting married, having a baby) but for some reason a birthday to me is just a fun day when I get to eat too much dessert. Which I most certainly did this time. So here’s the play by play.

I woke up to a kitchen that looked like a big ol’ present.

John had strung ribbons around it like the prettiest spider web I ever did see:

Is he a man or what? I love a guy who isn’t afraid to get his ribbon on in the name of birthday madness.

John also secretly picked up my favorite lunch ever: pastina (although it never says that on the box, so maybe that’s just what my Italian mom calls it). It’s basically tiny little pasta stars that you make and then add butter, milk, and salt. I used to eat it after school growing up and it always feels like a treat when John remembers that I love it and surprises me with some.


It was the first time Clara ever had it, and she LOVED it. That’s my girl.


We worked a normal day, except that we decided to unplug a few hours early (at 5:30!) and head over to Stonypoint, which is an outdoor walking mall here in Richmond. John said since we’re always too full to make it to dessert that he thought we should get dessert before dinner, to ensure that we had room. It was really cute and he told me to pick any restaurant I wanted and it actually became this tour of reading every dessert menu and picking the one that sounded the most amazing…


… which ended up being this trio of strawberry cheesecake, brownie, and gooey cookie topped with caramel from Champs. And yes, at the same moment John and I busted out laughing because we realized that the bowls looked like the chairs from The Voice. Yes, I might have even turned one around while singing “this is the voice.” And the waiter might have seen me. So you’ll be pleased to know that I’m not any more mature or less embarrassing in this new decade that I’ve entered.


Of course we ducked into Anthropologie, which I love to peruse just for all the creative ideas that they have going on with displays (check out the awesome burlap upholstery webbing that they used to create a woven wall behind Clara in the picture below).


But enough talk about the background. How cute is my kid in the foreground? Love that girl. She actually sang happy birthday to me about seventeen times, so it was extra sweet. I even got some encore presentations on Tuesday and Wednesday, which never failed to make me grin like a fool.

Along with a card full of sweet nothings from the hubby and cute scribbles from the bean, John got me this book called The Happiness Project that I’m already loving. The first chapter is all about paring down and I swear it made me want to drop the book and go all organization-crazy in my house. So beware, there might be some cleaning/organizing/basket-related madness going on along with the landscaping, bathroom, and deck-building plans that we have on the list.


He also got me this sweet ceramic elephant box (you know I can’t resist a sale, so I actually sent the link to John with a wink and a mumble about someone’s birthday…). John also surprised me with a gift card for a massage at my favorite place (he gets me one every Mother’s Day, and I must have raved about that annual tradition so much that it might have become a semi-annual thing – wahoo!). Momma’s still got some knots from laying a bunch of cork flooring, so it’ll definitely come in handy.


Then after we tucked Clara into bed, instead of DIYing something or flopping on the couch to size photos and write posts, John made me my favorite dinner: a chicken and leek stroganoff recipe from Jamie Oliver (I know it sounds gross but it’s the most delicious thing ever). We ate it outside on the patio with candles to the sound of the rustling wind and the baby monitor that we brought out there with us. Haha. It was great.

Over dinner, we got to talking about how much we love this house, and if we think we love it as much as our first house (our first love! our first baby! that house was our everything for a very long time). The verdict: yup…. but it’s a tie. We will always have a place in our heart for that first home of ours, where we got married in the backyard and brought Clara home. But I think it surprised us to realize how much our hearts swell when we think about this house too. Especially because it didn’t feel nearly as warm or cozy as our first house at first, but it definitely does now. It was a fun chat because the conversation also turned to us brainstorming things we can’t wait to do (as it tends to do at least once a week, haha). I guess we get love by giving love, so talking about all the ways that we want to show our house some love fills us with excitement and makes us love it even more.

All in all it was an amazing thirtieth birthday and I have so much to be thankful for. I love my hubs, my bean, and my pooch for making me feel so special along with all of you who sent such sweet birthday wishes my way. I know I get mushy on you guys a lot, but you really are the best. I’m so happy to share my house, my thirtieth birthday, and my random little DIY life with you.

Psst- You can check out John’s big 3-0 here, Clara’s first birthday here, my last birthday here, and Clara singing her unique rendition of happy birthday here.


  1. Vanessa says

    Your special day sounds so nice. I hope you have a great year and MANY more. I think this house is becoming so great and cozy and I think you have so much room inside and out to do so much more. Which is great. Thanks for being open and sharing with us – we feel like your pals :)
    You make me feel better about turning the big 3-0 in 8 months!

  2. says

    Glad you had a good birthday! I read The Happiness Project last year (got it from the library, though…my happiness is not paying for books, and not having to store them anywhere afterward). I’ve been on a do-something-for-a-year book kick lately — I also enjoyed No Impact Man (totally different…the author minimized his carbon (etc.) footprint for a year).

    I look forward to seeing your landscaping project. Here in Texas, we’re in the middle of prime landscaping season, although we had such a mild winter that there really wasn’t a time when we couldn’t plant stuff.

    Enjoy your weekend!

  3. says

    The Happiness Project is AWESOME! It just keeps getting better. And, you’re totally right… you’ll be cleaning sock drawers, closets, and aiming for an empty shelf somewhere in no time. SUCH a motivating, uplifting read : ) Love it! Enjoy – and Happy Birthday!

  4. Rachel says

    I just read the happiness project and I loved it. It was very motivating. I actually just bought it for two friends.

  5. Ginny says

    Happy birthday! Only the most wonderful people in the world are both in March (13th for me!)
    Love Stoneypoint- my 6th grader loves going to Saks and fantasizing over $1000 shoes =) And Cinebistro is the best movie watching experience ever.
    Love the house- Keep rocking in the RVA!

    • says

      Ooh we have never been to Cinebistro (it went up right when we had a newborn, so there was no movie-going for us, haha) but John was just saying the other day that we should beg his parents to come house-sit while she sleeps so we can sneak out to dinner and a movie there!


    • says

      Scroll back in the comments for the pastina one (it’s so easy!). And I linked to the chicken and leek stroganoff one in the post. Hope it helps!


  6. Kristen says

    Yes, it is called pastina! Here on long island, they call it that even on the box. My favorite comfort food as well, with milk butter and salt that my Italian mom made for me too! I still make it for myself :) happy 30! Glad it was such a lovely day!

  7. Katy says

    I could never decide who Clara resembles more, you or John, but that picture of her eating the pastina most decidedly settles it: that is a Petersik baby!! (Sorry Sherry! If it makes you feel any better, both my kids look like my hubby…I’m hoping #3 looks more like me!)

  8. says

    Happy belated birthday! I read The Happiness Project earlier this year and it’s helped me have such a positive mindset. You’re going to love it! I also loved reading about your sweet convo and brainstorming over dinner — reminds me of me and my husband!

  9. says

    The Happiness Project is the best!! I’m on the edge of my seat waiting for Gretchen Rubin’s next book Happier at Home.

    Happy 30s!!!

  10. says

    Isn’t it awesome how the most perfect birthdays don’t require anything extravagant? Just give a girl some dessert, a little love, and waaa-laaa the best birthday ever!

  11. says

    Happy Birthday! The Happiness Project is a great book. I’ve read it once and I’m planning to reread. I don’t want to spoil it for you, but there are lots of goodies throughout the book that I still think about and try to employ on a regular basis. If you haven’t checked out her blog, she posts regular updates and does these 2 minute videos every week. Its like having a free happiness coach!

    • says

      I’m reading the book too – very slowly in order to savor it! I absolutely love it. I must have bought four copies (Mine, my mother’s, my aunt’s, my grandmother’s) and now I’ve started a monthly Happiness Project group for a few ladies on google hangout.

      I’m hooked!

      And Abby’s right, lot’s of inspirational nuggets as you go!

  12. says

    Pastina is the “home sick” food for my Italian family… try throwing some shredded mozarella in there instead of milk. DELISH! :) Happy birthday!

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