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.


    • says

      We actually got her a littler one for her Easter basket. We had to be very stealth so she didn’t see John getting it for her while I distracted her with the big bunny. Haha.


  1. Stephanie says

    My mom used to make pastine (without an “a”), too! It wasn’t stars, though, just teeny tiny pasta dots. Her recipe (she’s not even Italian, but she learned to cook from my dad’s very Italian mother) was more of a soup in chicken broth. There were also carrots involved.

  2. Michelle says

    Ahh I love pastina! The way we make it in our house is to use chicken broth instead of water, and then I like to sprinkle a little cheese (swiss, cheddar, whatev) on top! I seriously at this at least once a week when I was in college because it’s so dirt cheap.

  3. Laura says

    Happy belated birthday! And can I just say those desserts made my mouth water. I gave up sweets for Lent and it’s been torture! Let me tell you, I’ve got BIG plans for Easter Sunday.

  4. Stephanie says

    Happy (belated) birthday!

    By the way, my (incredibly italian) family calls those pastina too. And my mom used to make me that meal all the time when I was younger and didn’t feel good. We just referred to it as “pasta, milk & butter.” What could be better? Yum. Now I want some.

  5. Christine says

    Happy 30th Sherry!

    And honey, you’ve been out of the tri-state area too long… it’s called pastina on the boxes up here in NY! It’s been my favorite comfort food forever, and I’m almost 30 myself. For a healthier version, sometimes I cook it in chicken broth and then just add a little cheese… also creamy and delicious but without the milk and butter! (Which I still cave in and make plenty of the time).

  6. evilbunnie says

    Happy Birthday! You guys make me mushy too. Many thanks for what joy you bring me (almost every day) and good luck with all the new endeavors!

  7. karen says

    Happy 30th Sherry!! That was a sweet post. I think those are my favourites.
    My kids eat pastina at least 3 times a week for lunch. I like to throw in an egg and stir it up. Or for more of a meal I add veggies and mini meatballs.
    i want that book :)

  8. says

    Sherry- I am a little embarrassed, but I have to admit that you made me tear up a bit with your pastina reference. I too am Italian and so are my grandparents on my mom’s side (I call them Nani and Poppy) and I swear, when I was a little girl, my Nani used to make pastina for me. I just couldn’t get enough of it. So much so, that she felt bad that it was all I wanted to eat so she would try to switch it up each time she made it. My all time favorite (that I think Clara might enjoy) is, when the pastina is done, drain all of the water except a little bit (to make it a little soupy) and then put it back on the burner. Crack an egg in it and stir it around until the egg is cooked. Then, when you serve it, sprinkle a little cheese (I use parm) on the top. She also used to add a little broccoli if she had leftovers. So yummy! I’m currently living in Florida and Nani and Poppy live in Buffalo, NY so I teared up at the fact that although I make it for myself quite often, I’m not around her enough- doesn’t it always taste better that way? :) Anyways, I’m rambling but I thought I’d share my sappiness, along with a recipe I thought you’d like. Those Italian Grandmother’s will getcha everytime! P.s. I guess I never realized that the box doesn’t read ‘pastina’ and you threw me off a little bit. So, here’s what wiki says about the great pastina debate!

    Pastina (literally “little pasta”) is a variety of pasta consisting of tiny pieces of pasta available in a variety of shapes. It is the smallest type of pasta produced. It is made of wheat flour and may also include egg.
    Pastina is typically used in broth soups in Italian cuisine, particularly for children.

    Thanks and Happy 30th! :)

  9. says

    Happy Birthday Sherry! I adore your sweet, funny, creative, always humble tone and wishing you much happiness in the coming year. 30 is the new 15 you know ;)

  10. says

    A day of your favorite things?! Sounds like the perfect birthday celebration indeed. Can’t wait to hear your review of the Happiness Project, too. That one has been on my list for a while now.

    Happy, happy birthday, Sherdog! (Sorry, couldn’t resist. It just seems like an even more fitting nickname in your 30’s, don’t cha think? ;))

  11. annie says

    Glad you gotta lotta love on your special day. Indeed, I do not feel older on birthdays, either – but definitely more grateful, cognizant, and appreciative of all the love I get each year; what a gift! Glad you got that too – as well as some sweet swag. ;-) Happy year!

  12. says

    Sounds like a great birthday, Sherry! Those dessert bowls DO look like teh chairs from The Voice. I also can’t stop singing “this is THE VOOOICE!” during the show. It’s horrid, but addicting. I enjoyed reading your last paragraph about how much you guys are loving your home. We’re coming up on our 2nd anniversary in our house and while it’s the most charming bungalow ever, sometimes I second-guess and feel like we need more space, more yard, more of SOMETHING. But I’ve decided to push all that aside and reconnect with our cutie and put all my ideas into THIS house NOW instead of thinking of all the what-ifs. You guys really inspire me to just dive in to projects instead of always planning but not doing! Thanks!

  13. Rebecca says

    Giada DeLaurentis has it in her Everyday Pasta cookbook as Pastina. It looks REAL fancy on a glossy page ;) Also, I love that Sue the Napkin was used for your birthday dinner. Happy, happy!

  14. Jyl says

    Happy Belated, Sherry! Nice work making the birthday special for your lady, John!

    I know this is a post about your birthday, but I just had to say again, Clara looks so big all the sudden! She’s always been a cutie, but her big girl face is quite the showstopper. She makes my heart swell and she’s not even my kid! Heck, I don’t even really know you! Whatever, she makes me smile :)

    Oh man, now I’m gonna have to go get myself some pastina…

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