Photos from my 30th birthday party

As you know, I turned 30 two weeks ago. Of course I had to celebrate, but how? At first I hoped for the extravagant: dress codes and dance floors, rented urban spaces and mountains of themed decorations. I think I was trying to live up to some kind of standard of “the kind of party a cool 30-year-old would have,” but the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to just ignore my birthday altogether. I finally realized that, although I love dancing and dressing up, I have so little experience with planning big ‘dos that it would be impossible for me to actually enjoy myself if I had one; I’d only be fretting over whether everything was amply spectacular and all the guests wowed by the perfection of splendor. After much pondering, in lieu of a fancy bash, I opted for a laid-back day with friends, food, and a nice mix of indoor/outdoor time. It was the perfect thing and I had a wonderful time.

(All photos below are from my youngest sister Allison. Thanks, Al! 🙂 )

We started with an easy walk around China Camp State Park in San Rafael. We didn’t get to see the actual old Chinese fishing camp, but we did spot some mushrooms, lichens, and beautiful manzanitas (called “refrigerator trees” because the smooth bark is always cool to the touch).

My with my two sisters in front of the sign for China Camp State Park

L to R: Me with my sisters Allison and Sarah.

Lichens on manzanita tree

The colors! The textures!

Four of us walking the trails

L to R: My friend Kay, brother-in-law Devin, me, and Erik.

After our walk, we headed over to the fabulous San Rafael farmers’ market, where we ate lunch and picked up supplies for the party.

Erik carrying a huge loaf of bread

As soon as I saw this giant loaf of bread, I knew I had to have it for the party!

In the early afternoon, we returned over the Richmond Bridge to our house, and spent the rest of the day feasting and chatting, drinking mulled cider and ginger-citrus “beer.”


Lyapa not getting enough attention to suit her!

Crudités, See's chocolates, walnuts in shell.

Sarah and Allison cut the vegetables, Sarah brought the dips and chocolates and the homemade caramels (in container), and I bought the walnuts at the market.

Salad with edible flowers

I tasted these flowers at the market and thought they’d be great in the salad. Wild mustard and radish flowers, mixed greens, lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, salt & pepper.

Lisa putting a bread knife into a giant loaf of bread

Cutting the giant loaf!

Kay arranging baguette slices

Kay arranges slices of baguette next to two local cheeses: Cowgirl Creamery’s Red Hawk (soft), and Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co’s Toma (semisoft).

Birthday feast

From center top, clockwise spiral: giant levain, sesame crown, cheeses, persimmons (Devin and Sarah peeled and cut these later), salads, lemon quark, charcuterie (my best friend shipped these to us since she couldn’t be there!), local smoked salmon (barely visible), cake, pie, my homemade lentil salad.

Cake with "30!" written on the white-chocolate buttercream

This cake was AMAZING. We chose one based on the recommendation of the guy at the bakery, and it was a winner. White chocolate buttercream, moist chocolate cake, pistachio mousse.

Earlier this month, I wrote that I’d been feeling lonely, but this birthday has reminded me that in spite of the essential loneliness of our individuality, I’m blessed with many loving friends and a close-knit family. Much love to all of you who came to the party (hi Anna! 🙂 ) or sent birthday wishes in any way. What an incredible way to celebrate my three decades of existence. I love you all so much.