Birthday Dinner with the Family

After an absolutely fantastic birthday at work, I couldn’t think of any better way to spend the rest of the evening, than with my family.


Jay and I met up with my parents and my brother at Villa Valenti restaurant, which has long been a local favorite spot of mine (I can’t believe I haven’t been here since starting the blog?!). They serve up some killer Italian food, and since I tend to crave Italian like, all the time, it was definitely no question.

One of my favorite things about Villa Valenti is their fresh baked bread and rolls with dipping oil. Swooooon.


Another one of my favorite things? Their salad bar. Ah-maz-ing.


I could easily make a meal out of just the bread and the salad bar.

But of course, that’s not how it goes. Because then I’d miss out on my third favorite thing at Villa Valenti…their sauce. They make their own, and it’s just so darn delicious. I was having a tough time deciding what I wanted to get with their sauce, but I ultimately decided on their eggplant parmesan…which was easily enough to feed a family of four.


Seriously. The portions at that place are out of control. All five of us easily went home with leftovers, and I now still have plenty left for dinner tonight. Scooooore.


You know, just a random thought here…but as I was typing this up, I got to thinking about how I very rarely see any other bloggers eat out at Italian restaurants. Does anyone else notice that? Am I the only one who’s completely and utterly in love with classic Italian meals that are large enough to feed a small army? But anyway…back to where we were.

Even though I’m sure we were all pretty stuffed, we all made sure to leave a teeny bit of room for dessert. I mean, c’mon…it was a birthday cake baked by mom!


And they even brought candles for me. Smile


This year’s cake was a funfetti cake (always delicious) with my favorite almond buttercream frosting.


I enjoyed every last bite of my little piece of cake while opening up a couple of gifts (I’ve got some new clothes for Mexico!) and just spending time with the family. It was the perfect way to end an absolutely awesome birthday.

Honestly, I think that this year’s birthday was one of my favorites in a long time. From start to finish, I just felt so loved (I know, I’m such a sap) from everyone around me (including all of you!). Not to mention the fact that I ate a ton of delicious food, too.

Now today, we’re back to reality, and they’ll be no more crazy talk about birthday week. You’ve got another whole year before you have to hear about that again. Winking smile

Question for the Morning:

What’s your fondest birthday memory ever?


  1. says

    Remember it’s okay to extend your birthday out a couple of weeks, or heck, make it your birth month! You have lots to celebrate!
    I’m so happy you had such a great birthday.
    One of my fondest birthday memories was when my husband (boyfriend at the time) surprised me with a trip to Chicago for the weekend. He didn’t tell me what the surprise was until we were pulling into the airport. It was a fairy tale! I love birthdays.
    Melanie @ Beautifully Nutty recently posted..Overnight Chia Berry Kefir Bowl

  2. Carol T. says

    Happy Birthday Courtney… we all love you!! It looks like you did have a very special day with family and friends. I also love italian food and cake with creamy frosting…

  3. Sarah says

    Your birthday fell on a Wednesday, my understanding of the birthday rules for girls is that you get to celebrate your birthday from the weekend (Friday night) before your birthday, to the weekend (Sunday night – at midnight) after your birthday. 😉

    Happy birthday!

  4. says

    So glad you had a fun birthday celebration, Courtney! I’m turning 23 next week, so my family is actually coming to visit this weekend to celebrate my birthday early–birthdays with the fam are the best. :)

    One of my most memorable celebrations was turning 21 while studying abroad in London. Even though most people go nuts when they turn the big 2-1 (which is totally understandable!), my celebration was relatively tame, which probably had something to due with the younger drinking age. 😉
    Carrie @ Fitness and Frozen Grapes recently posted..My New Nickname

  5. says

    I am so glad to hear that everyone in your life made your birthday such a great one. You deserve it! :)

    That restaurant looks AMAZING. I love places that serving dipping oil with their bread. So, so tasty. And the eggplant parm?? Wow, that looks so amazing. And you are right, those portions are HUGE. I am fairly certain I would be stufffed after leaving that restaurant ;). Plus, the addition of birthday cake would put me over the edge. But seriously, who can say no to funfetti birthday cake, especially when it is in the shape of a heart? So cute!

    P.s. I am loving your shirt! Where did you get it?
    Hannah @ CleanEatingVeggieGirl recently posted..WIAW: January 30, 2013

  6. Whitney says

    That portion of your eggplant parm is exactly why there is an obesity problem in this country. That is crazy and ridiculous!!

    I, personally, am not a fan of Italian food. It seems like it’s something you grew up eating so maybe that’s the difference!

  7. says

    Looks like an awesome birthday! Every year I choose to hold my family birthday dinner at Cheesecake Factory and tend to get multiple flavors of cheesecake to split around the table… Yum! :)

    You aren’t alone in your love for Italian! I am a huge sucker for real, homemade Italian food! Unfortunately though, there is no restaurant I am in love with locally and we usually pick one Italian night out when we are on vacation somewhere! :)
    Jana @ Happy Wife Healthy Life recently posted..Back in the Gym

  8. says

    Glad you had a good birthday! I love Italian food! I don’t eat out often as it gets expensive but I would say Italian and Chinese restaurants are my two favorites!

    My favorite birthdays have been ones I got to spend with friends and family!

  9. Betty says

    Your comment about bloggers and italian restaurants – so many areas around the country don’t have the selection of privately owned italian restaurants like we do here in the capital region – we are blessed beyond belief – that and real italian bread – if you were to ever move out of the area you’d find that out very quickly – happy birthday

  10. says

    I love Italian and I eat it fairly often – the only problem I have with going out to eat at Italian restaurants is that I can usually make it all myself at home for SO much cheaper. Also, your mom’s cake is so pretty! Love that she makes one for you each year :)
    Sara@MagiaePasta recently posted..Matchbox and Mail

  11. Alexandra says

    You are literally radiating happiness :):) So glad that you had a fantastic birthday! My hubby and I go out for dinner at our favorite Classic Italian restaurant in town at least once a month…its our absolute favorite!! Theres just something about the wine, comfort food and warm colors that make us so relaxed and we have the best conversations there :)

  12. says

    Holy egg plan! They sure didn’t skimp on it 😀
    And that’s so funny that you mention that. I remember posting a while back about Olive Garden, and how I didn’t think I’ve ever read about another blogger liking Olive Garden like I do (except, now that I think about it, do you love it, too??) It’s weird! I love Italian – whether it’s a chain like OG or a family owned and run joint that’s been there for years.
    Glad you had such a great bday, Courtney :)
    Paige @ Your Trainer Paige recently posted..Easy Dinner, Humbled in the Gym, + The Personal Trainer Sin I Commit Daily

  13. says

    Glad you had a good birthday! That cakes looks FABULOUS!

    My fondest bday memory has to be from my most recent bday.. I got engaged! And then had a surprise bday/engagement party afterwards… definitely an overwhelming but unforgettable night!

    And I most definitely share your love for Italian food… those pictures are making me crave it, even this early in the day!
    Lauren @ Berry Sweet Lauren recently posted..WIAW #4: Pass the Protein

  14. says

    Looks like such a great birthday dinner with family! I hear what you’re saying about the lack of Italian restaurant go-ers in the blog world. Maybe people are afraid of pasta? I live right near an Italian district of my city and love the food, unfortunately it doesn’t love me back. But lots of restaurants will accommodate a gluten allergy these days if you bring your own pasta.
    Meghan @ After the Ivy League recently posted..Thursday Thoughts

  15. says

    I go to Italian restaurants all the time! Like probably every week. My boyfriend’s family is Italian so we have it a lot at home, too. My best birthday memory is when my parents threw me a surprise party and gave me a car for my 16th birthday :) Glad you had a great day!!
    Allison recently posted..Big Changes

  16. says

    Looks like a great time… and great cake! :) I looooove Italian food. It always goes over well with my family. I don’t go out for it toooooo much though since it’s the one thing I think I’ve mastered at home. However, we go out for pizza all the time. Hmmm, probably a little too much. ha

  17. Kristen says

    That sounded like a fantastic birthday! I’ve learned that the best ones are just being with family. I am obsessssssed with italian food. Of course there’s the classic Olive Garden but then the waiter proceeded to tell me their breadsticks were 300 calories a pop…. after i already ate 3 of them. FAIL. But where I grew up we had two family owned italian restaurants which were just amazing. I’ve learned I just can’t go to them on a regular basis otherwise I’ll start packin on the pounds 😉

  18. says

    Funfetti or carrot cake are my favorites!

    I never realized about Italian restaurants until you mentioned it. To be honest, I don’t go to Italian restaurants often, because I grew up in a 100% Italian household, and I guess I’m a snob when it comes to Italian food? haha There’s few places that are authentic to me!
    Angela @ Beauty in Strength recently posted..WIAW – #12

  19. says

    Glad to see you had such a great birthday! I have a feeling next year will be even better with a little adorable baby! That cake looks so good. I’m going to go with the typical cliche answer, but my fondest memory to date is my 21st birthday-although today is giving it a run for its money!
    Claire @ Keeping Up With Claire recently posted..24!

  20. Sarah says


    My mom has been making the same cake for me since I was a kid. It is the best cake ever: chocolate layer cake with chocolate icing and whipped cream and chocolate-dipped strawberries. My mom is not a big baker, and my birthday is in late June, but she still makes it for me :)

  21. says

    Yum! Everything looks so great! How sweet of your family to bring you a cake (and candles! 😉 ) Now that you say it, I have noticed that not a whole lot of bloggers dine out at Italian places. Interesting… Anyway! Looks like it was a good one! Last birthday without a baby! :)
    Abby J recently posted..Monthly Mantra Kick-Off

  22. Amy says

    Happy belated Birthday! I love Italian food! We ate it all the time growing up. I’ve stayed away from pasta when I cook at home, but since I live in Chicago and Italian restaurants are not hard to come by I usually will eat a pasta dish when dining out. I love your shirt, please share where it’s from!

  23. says

    Oh, I just noticed your shirt was on J’s everyday fashion today! So stylish!

    I don’t tend to choose Italian restaurants when I dine out, I’m more likely to opt for sushi. I think because I can make good Italian food at home, but I’ve yet to even attempt sushi making. Plus, I’m admittedly not a big fan of pasta. I know. I think I started avoiding it because of the carbs, but now i just don’t have much of a taste for it. I’d much rather have a seafood dish or a filet at an Italian restaurant. I’m way more of a meat eater. I could do without pasta, but definitely not meat!
    Cassie @RedLetterDaye recently posted..What I’m Loving Wednesday: Heart (Rates) and Love

  24. says

    WHat a fun celebration!! That food looks amazing.

    I LOVE bread with dipping oils. Mmmm. I don’t tend to ‘crave’ Italian for some odd reason, so maybe that’s why I don’t go there often? I tend to ‘crave’ Mexican? But I do like Italian. This post makes me want to go to an Italian restaurant soon!! :)

    happy birthday again!
    Annette@FitnessPerks recently posted..411 on Casein Protein Powder + Recipe

  25. says

    I never go out to eat at Italian restaurants because my family is authentic Italian. We are SO picky when it comes to Italian food, so we are never satisfied if we get it out at a restaurant because we feel it isn’t as good haha! My favorite meal is eggplant parmesan and what kind of Italian meal would it be if it couldn’t feed an army?! 😉

    Mmmm… Funfetti cake! Glad you had an amazing birthday!
    Lauren recently posted..The Big Two-Three!

  26. Audrey says

    Now that you mention it, yes, I rarely ever see other food bloggers eat out at Italian restaurants and blog about it. It’s the best food Eva. So more bloggers should get on the Italian bandwagon. Lol.
    My most memorable were my 10th and 16th birthday parties. Everyone I loved was at both of them and I had just the best time ever. Plus at my 10th bday party, I got a trampoline. Kids dream!

  27. says

    What a great birthday, for sure! My favorite birthdays are definitely the ones filled with friends, family and those who I love and love me back. My last birthday I got brunch with my best friend and then we went hiking in Malibu before grabbing dinner and drinks with friends. It was honestly a great evening!

    P.S. Funfetti cake is my FAVORITE!
    Katie @ Talk Less, Say More recently posted..Choices

  28. Jenny says

    Funfetti for life. My best friend and I have a birthday 3days apart and almost every year for the last 13 we’ve made each other (and shared) a funfetti cake (or cupcakes!)

  29. says

    Happy Birthday to you, Miss Courtney! Looks like it was a delicious one for sure! I was so excited to turn 29 this year. I love odd numbers and plan to celebrate 29 for the rest of my birthdays. 😉
    Trisha recently posted..The Perfect Mix

  30. says

    Just wanted to let you know that for some odd reason I wasn’t getting your emails for new posts, I noticed this so had to investigate and thought you’d gone missing. Nup, it might be stuffing up on my end but I’m not sure. Anyways I’m catching up on all the posts now.

    I’m glad I didn’t miss this one! Looks like a great night and that cake looks scrumptious.
    Bek @ Crave recently posted..A Dinner Experiment With Success

  31. Lindsay says

    Happy belated birthday, Courtney! I was about to leave you a note about not getting your emails when I noticed the previous commenter has had the same issue. I verified that I am subscribed and they aren’t going to my SPAM folder. Weird!

    On another note, do you mind if I ask where you got the shirt you are wearing at your birthday dinner? I have been looking for one EXACTLY like that!!


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