A Very Vineyard Birthday Celebration

A little while ago, as I was getting set to celebrate my 39th birthday, my mom suggested that, since she’d be out our way for a conference and visiting us anyway, Scott and I take the opportunity to go have a date night out on the town and she’d stay with Marcus.

Initially, it sounded like a fun idea. We’d go out on a date night and have some time together, and Mom would enjoy some time with her grandson. But for some reason, it just didn’t sit right with me, and I started feeling glum. It took me a time to realize just how important family time is to me. My parents live in California, on the other side of the country, and they’re only able to visit every so often. I treasure those visits. And I’m really treasuring the time I have with my son, free of work and distractions. And as much as I want to have time with my husband, Scott and I have been really good about making time to talk and catch up every day, more than just a quick hello, kiss, and handing off Baby Bean.

My sister really prompted the idea we ended up going with by sending us a gorgeous charcuterie gift basket, full of wonderful cheeses, chutneys, and other goodies. I dug out the wonderful picnic basket we’ve been talking about using forever and haven’t touched, packed us up a bunch of wonderful snacks, and suggested that instead of a night out on the town, we all head out to Paradise Springs Winery, our favorite winery nestled in the rolling hills of nearby Clifton, and have ourselves a picnic in the beautiful autumn air.

Lucky for me, everyone was in favor of that idea. So Mom, Scott, Marcus, and I headed out to celebrate my birthday in a way that was, now that I think about it, way more suited to me than anything else we discussed – sipping wine and nibbling on cheese and other goodies, in the rolling hills under the shade of gorgeous oaks, surrounded by the family I love.

Dishing up charcuterie and sipping wine under the shade of a winery’s gorgeous trees on a beautiful sunny day is pretty much heaven to me, and a great way to kick off the last year of my 30’s. And it feels like a fitting part of the evolution I’ve been going through as I’ve been giving myself permission to not focus on work, on living bigger, on constantly going-going-going and trying to keep up with some imagined competition, and just…you know…live.

It made me realize that it’s worth it to invest in yourself and be kind to your body.

That it’s unreal how much joy taking it easy, naps, fresh air and good food, cancelling big plans, cozy pajamas, and going to bed early can give you if you give yourself permission to stop keeping up.

That the older you get, the more valuable your time is, and it matters who and what you spend it on.

That it’s amazing how much a little time out in nature can restore you.

That the best gift you can give people is your undivided attention.

That you’ll be more grateful for drinking enough water than you ever will be for drinking anything else, no matter how amazing it feels at the time.

That life in the slow lane can be pretty amazing if you stop and let it happen.

Those are my favorite lessons I’ve learned so far, and I have a feeling this year will be packed with many more. I’m grateful, and my heart is full. What better way to ring in a new year?


About the ChefKristin

Career Army officer with a tendency toward workaholism. On the side, self taught cook, carpenter, and gardener, working to build a beautiful life for my family. Trying to tilt my balance in the right direction.


  1. Cheers and happy belated birthday! Before I entered my 30s, they seemed very, very scary. In reality, they’ve been an incredible time of learning and growth and understanding and I’m so thankful for all that I’ve learned so far and can’t wait to continue absorbing more lessons.

    1. Thanks so much, Terra! If my experience is any indicator, it just gets better. I don’t understand people who want to go back to their 20s, because I wouldn’t – not unless I could take my brain and lessons learned with me!

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