Birthday Blessings, Coast to Coast

Hey, hey everybody! I took a little mini-vacay to celebrate the big 2-9 and am only now starting to recover from the whirlwind week. I spent a few delicious days in San Francisco with my family—my sister just moved into a fabulous house in Mill Valley—but I returned home just in time to spend a perfect birthday Sunday with Walter and the pups.

It would have been the best birthday yet, except for one minor hitch: my luggage was stolen on the Marta ride home, right beneath my very eyes. (Well okay, I was reading this, so I may have not been paying enough attention.) While nothing crazy, crazy valuable was stolen, it was still a devastating loss. Any guys reading this might not understand, but girls, you get it. Losing all of your fancy schmancy makeup just plain sucks. And of course I always pack my very favorite clothes when I travel, and I always pack too much. So now there is a serious dent in my wardrobe, not too mention the hard-earned J. Crew purse I bought myself when I quit the restaurant industry. The worst of the damage was a simple gold necklace with a tiny whisk charm, a gift from my sister that I am rarely without. Of course it wouldn't mean anything to anyone else, but it meant a lot to me.

I spent the better half of Saturday wasting too many tears, but thanks to my sweet fiancé (and a few too many of these) I finally started to look on the bright side. Because at the end of the day, I had so many generous people offer to help replace what I lost—which is a huge blessing in itself—but I also have the constant love of my friends, family, and furry babies to make me realize just how lucky I am. (Still, a girl can only hope that someone gets as much happiness from my fake Prada makeup bag as I did, and that my beloved curling iron is put to good use.) I know that eventually I will look at this tiny bump as a life lesson, although I do hope it is a lesson about counting my blessings more than a lesson in trusting others less. I actually enjoy having faith in people and hope to keep it that way.

All things considered, I still had an absolutely fabulous birthday week! I was only in California for what seemed like minutes, but we packed it full of adventures. One day was spent exploring Mill Valley, where I ate perfectly charred wood-fired pizza, chased down a few freshly-squeezed mimosas, explored Tyler Florence's dreamy cooking store, and ogled over the exquisite (albeit overpriced) housewares at Summer House. On the second day, thanks to my sweet father, I finally got to have my first Zuni Cafe roast chicken & bread salad experience, which was more incredible than I could have ever imagined. My niece and nephew even kept still for a whole hour while we waited because they know it is that good. We spent the rest of the afternoon viewing the America's Cup sailing trials in the Bay, followed by an insanely lavish lobster feast at my sister-in-law Anne's house. And to think, it wasn't even my birthday yet!!

On Sunday, the actual big day, Walt took extra special care of me after all of Saturday's drama. We started the morning with (his favorite) crispy waffles and then set out for a day of "shopping." And yes, I actually scored a man that likes antiquing almost as much as I do. And no, I never thought the word 'antiquing' would come out of my mouth in an enthusiastic way. Before he had to physically drag me out of Kudzu, we ended up with a funky Creole painting for the kitchen and two vintage train lanterns destined to become our new bedside lamps. Spending money worked up our appetite, so we overindulged in homemade onion dip and French fries at Farm Burger, followed by a Target buying spree. The rest of the evening was spent lounging in our pjs, devouring Dairy Queen birthday cake with Hershey's syrup on top, and Walt even let me pick out a movie!

Granted we probably spent too much, and we definitely ate too much, but I really wouldn't have it any other way. It's just a shame that it all had to end on Monday. If I had my choice, birthdays would last forever, and then getting older would never seem that bad. Oh well. I guess I'll just have to count the days until next year. Bring it on, dirty thirty!

Image sources: Board one: (Sign)  Summer House | (Lobster) Martha Stewart |  (Golden Gate Bridge) me | (Zuni Chicken) Ben Cooks Everything | (Coffee Beans) Culinaire Lifestyle | (Mocha) Yelp Board two: (Painting) me, (Birthday candles) me | (Train Lantern) J Peterman | (Burger)  Farm Burger