Shanna Cakes cupcakes.

A very good year for blue-blooded girls of independent means.

On turning 35.

Today I turn 35.

There’s something about birthdays that reminds me of how good my life is. I tend to focus, to write, about the thing going wrong in my life, the things I want to improve on, the goals I’m striving towards. And, don’t get me wrong, I’m thinking of those things now too: thirty-five has me seeing forty in the future and taking stock. But, on birthdays, it’s easy to remember all those great things in life too.

It’s not about getting a year older, it’s about getting a year wiser, right? Something like that.

I had a birthday slash housewarming party this weekend and a bunch of friends came over to celebrate with me. We had chips and cheese and wine and punch and cupcakes and brownies and alcoholic pudding. It was a small, casual affair. It was fun. It was just what I needed. And that had me taking stock too.


My thirty-fifth birthday reminded me:


That I have really awesome friends.

A lot of my friends have left Illinois or, at least, moved far into the suburbs. So, sometimes, Chicago feels a bit lonely. Having a bunch of people, from different areas of my life, together in one place, reminded me that I’m not actually alone here. I’m blessed to have such great people in my life.

Plus, my friend Shanna baked some insanely delicious cupcakes…

Shanna Cakes cupcakes.

Shanna Cakes cupcakes.


That my friends have adorable babies.

Because despite not wanting children of my own, I do enjoy having children in my life that I get to see grow up.

Maggie partying hard.

Maggie partying hard.


That I get along with my co-workers.

I’m not sure if that’s rare or not to have co-workers that you actually want to hang out with after work. But I work with some great people, it’s my favorite aspect of my job, and quite a few of them came out to my party.

Friends at my party.

Friends at my party.


That I can’t do anything without going overboard.

It’s one of my many quicks, something I actually really love about myself: I can’t do anything without going all out. I like entertaining and I like making sure there’s enough of everything for everyone. I actually restrained myself by only providing chips and salsa (OK so I had chips and four salsas because I couldn’t decide), cheese and crackers (OK, four cheeses with five types of crackers and two jars of jams), strawberry daiquiri punch, bottles of three-buck chuck, and three types of pudding shots. On princess plates. With princess straws.

This is me holding back, people. Ths is me holding back.

Princess plates. Because who wants boring plates?

Princess plates. Because who wants boring plates?


That I really love my apartment.

Not many people have been to my apartment since I moved in, so it was fun having people over. It was fun showing it off. Decorating, and fulfilling the visions I’ve had in my head, actually makes me really happy and, as selfish as it sounds, having people compliment my place and asking me to do their place next, gives me a lot of joy.

Jams and crackers and cheese.

Jams and crackers and cheese.


That pudding shots are still the greatest thing.

I “invented” pudding shots for my thirtieth birthday five years ago. So now every time I have a party I feel like I need to make them (OK, so whatever, this is the first party I’ve thrown since then, but still). I think this year’s batch turned out stronger than last time. But, hey, they are shots after all… (I’ll be sharing recipes next week.)

Heather eating a pudding shot.

Heather eating a pudding shot.


I’m looking forward to the next year, to being 35 for the next 366 days. I already feel like I’m starting to come out of that funk that plagued me for most of 34. I’ve been blogging regularly again. I’ve been feeling accomplished again. I’ve been feeling more happy than not. And, hopefully, I will remember all the things I said above, all these great things in my life, and keep this momentum going.

So, while I doubt I’ll ride in many limousines where chauffeurs will drive, thirty five should be a very good year.

Happy birthday to me.


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Hi, I'm Val. I spent most of my 20s in a standstill, unable to pick which path in life I wanted to take. I wanted the nomadic life of a traveler but also wanted the husband, the condo, and the kitten. Unable to decide which life I wanted more, I did nothing. When I turned 30 I’d had enough of putting my life on hold and decided to start “choosing my figs.” So, I quit my job, bought a one-way ticket to Europe, and traveled for three years. Now I'm back in Chicago, decorating my apartment in all the teal, petting my cats, and planning my next adventure.

  • Caroline
    January 19, 2016at12:47 pm

    Happy Birthday, birthday buddy! (Mine was yesterday. 🙂 ) I like your perspective on yours. Looked like fun!

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