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Birthday Dinner with the Family

by Courtney on January 31, 2013

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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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!

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And they even brought candles for me. Smile

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

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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?

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{ 79 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Khushboo January 31, 2013 at 8:03 am

Looks like a great birthday celebration, Courtney! And I guess I’m one of the few bloggers who also like Italian food…sorry wait, I mean LOVE! :)! Nothing beats good marinara sauce!
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2 Sarah @PickyRunner January 31, 2013 at 8:05 am

Oh man that food has me drooling at 8am. I love funfetti cake. And buttercream frosting. And fresh bread. And any form of italian food. I’m so glad you had a great birthday with family!!
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3 Melanie @ Beautifully Nutty January 31, 2013 at 8:07 am

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.
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4 Carol T. January 31, 2013 at 8:08 am

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…

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5 My Neon Running Shoes January 31, 2013 at 8:08 am

So glad you felt loved! You are! I love salad bars too… I go back multiple times! And that cake looks so delicious! Just think this was your last birthday without a little one to share it with :-)
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6 Michelle@Peachy Palate January 31, 2013 at 8:09 am

Looks and sounds like the perfect day! Your blouse is gorgeous btw!
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7 Shari January 31, 2013 at 8:13 am

Happy (belated) Birthday! Sounds like you had a lovely day!
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8 Sarah January 31, 2013 at 8:16 am

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!

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9 Carrie @ Fitness and Frozen Grapes January 31, 2013 at 8:18 am

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. ;)
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10 Hannah @ CleanEatingVeggieGirl January 31, 2013 at 8:28 am

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?
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11 Courtney January 31, 2013 at 4:50 pm

Thanks! It’s from Express

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12 Morganne January 31, 2013 at 8:29 am

It’s definitely rare to see food bloggers out at Italian restaurants! You’re not alone though…I love me some marinara and mozzarella! Hope you had a great birthday!
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13 Sarah Jane January 31, 2013 at 8:42 am

Do you have the recipe for the funfetti cake or is it just a box mix?
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14 Courtney January 31, 2013 at 4:48 pm

Just a box :)

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15 Hope @ With A Side Of Hope January 31, 2013 at 8:43 am

I love Italian food! I try to eat Italian at least once a week. That portion is huge! :)

Funfetti cake is my favorite. So glad you had a great birthday!
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16 Whitney January 31, 2013 at 8:56 am

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!

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17 Jana @ Happy Wife Healthy Life January 31, 2013 at 8:57 am

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! :)
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18 Beks January 31, 2013 at 9:05 am

Hope you had a Happy Birthday! My mom’s birthday was yesterday, too. I made her Orange Blossom Cupcakes that turned out really well. Rave reviews. Just what an amateur baker likes to hear. :-)
(Recipe: http://www.yourcupofcake.com/2011/05/orange-white-chocolate-cupcakes.html)
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19 Nicole @ Fruit 'N' Fitness January 31, 2013 at 9:11 am

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!

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20 Natalie @ Free Range Human January 31, 2013 at 9:14 am

I’m so glad you had a good day! Now that you mention it, I think you’re right about the lack of Italian food in the blog world. I don’t get it either-it’s my favorite!!
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21 Laurie @ Love, Laugh, Laurie January 31, 2013 at 9:26 am

So glad you had a great bday dinner! The food looks so delish!
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22 Avery @ Southern Belle Living Well January 31, 2013 at 9:30 am

I suppose it’s because of te large portions. Those things are tempting! I think my best birthday memory was this past year when I didn’t do anything big, but spent a lot of time with family, before heading to a cheer practice cOmpleted with PLENTY of gift cards and mini bundt cakes :)
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23 Amanda @ .running with spoons. January 31, 2013 at 9:34 am

I’m going to be a total sap here and say that I have fond memories of every birthday pretty much for the reason you mentioned – feeling loved by everyone. Cakes, parties, and presents are all great, but ultimately nothing beats that special feeling of it being your special day :)
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24 Betty January 31, 2013 at 9:40 am

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

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25 Courtney January 31, 2013 at 4:47 pm

Wow I never thought about that?! I guess we are pretty lucky then!! :)

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26 Sara@MagiaePasta January 31, 2013 at 9:40 am

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 :)
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27 Alexandra January 31, 2013 at 9:43 am

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 :)

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28 Victoria @ Reluctantly Skinny January 31, 2013 at 9:44 am

You’re definitely right about the Italian food. Proud lover of over sized portions, Italian sauce, and heaping amounts of cheese over here!

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29 Paige @ Your Trainer Paige January 31, 2013 at 9:45 am

Holy egg plan! They sure didn’t skimp on it :D
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 :)
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30 Courtney January 31, 2013 at 4:46 pm

Haha yup! I do love me some OG ;)

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31 Ashley January 31, 2013 at 9:47 am

Looks like a great birthday! Don’t worry I am a lover of italian food too!
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32 Katie @ KatieEnPursuit January 31, 2013 at 9:50 am

Holy yum on that cake! Looks delish! And did I notice pickles on your salad? I do that all of the time, they add such flavor :) I love any birthday that involves family or friends, that’s all I need…oh, & cake! Sounds like you had an awesome day!
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33 Courtney January 31, 2013 at 4:45 pm

Oh you betcha! Love me some pickles!

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34 Lauren @ Berry Sweet Lauren January 31, 2013 at 9:58 am

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!
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35 Steph @ StephSnacks January 31, 2013 at 10:01 am

We are born right around the same time! My birthday is the 25th of January! I’m actually going to Mexico in the beginning of April – just planned my trip last night, woo hoo :-)

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36 Courtney January 31, 2013 at 4:45 pm

Happy belated birthday!!!

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37 Meghan @ After the Ivy League January 31, 2013 at 10:01 am

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.
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38 Courtney January 31, 2013 at 4:44 pm

I agree…I think a lot of people are afraid of the pasta. I say, don’t fear the carbs!!! ;)

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39 Lindsey January 31, 2013 at 10:03 am

My 8th birthday when my parents rented me a hot tub for my (Sept) birthday and there was a blizzard outside!
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40 Allison January 31, 2013 at 10:22 am

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!!
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41 Tiff @ Love Sweat and Beers January 31, 2013 at 10:35 am

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

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42 Katie @ running4cupcakes January 31, 2013 at 10:48 am

That entire meal looks ah-mazing. I like that you put pickles on your salad too – YUM! I love that my family always gets together for birthdays (even still!) and Mom still makes our favorite meal.
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43 Courtney January 31, 2013 at 4:43 pm

LOVE pickles in my salads!!

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44 Kristen January 31, 2013 at 11:25 am

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 ;)

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45 Courtney January 31, 2013 at 4:43 pm

Fellow OG fan right here!! :)

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46 Kristy @ Kristy's Health Revolution January 31, 2013 at 11:46 am

I think you’re right about Italian Restaurants, and here’s another thought. I was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and we alllllways went out to Italian Restaurants, but I honestly can’t remember the last time I went since I’ve lived in my current state. Maybe it’s a regional thing?
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47 Courtney January 31, 2013 at 4:42 pm

That’s so interesting…maybe it is a regional thing??

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48 Angela @ Beauty in Strength January 31, 2013 at 11:46 am

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!
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49 Sara @ fitcupcaker January 31, 2013 at 12:05 pm

funfetti is the best cake ever! If i dont make homemade cake I make funfetti because it is delicous! ALl the food looks amazing! Happy Birthday!
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50 Claire @ Keeping Up With Claire January 31, 2013 at 12:05 pm

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!
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51 Allison January 31, 2013 at 12:10 pm

Happy Belated! Looks like it was wonderful!

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52 Sarah January 31, 2013 at 12:35 pm

HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY!

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 :)

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53 Courtney January 31, 2013 at 4:41 pm

That sounds incredible!!

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54 Abby J January 31, 2013 at 12:38 pm

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! :)
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55 Sam @ Better With Sprinkles January 31, 2013 at 12:41 pm

On my list of favourite types of restaurants, Italian ranks 3rd; under Mexican and sushi. So I’d say it’s definitely one of my favourites!

The cake is so cute – I love how it was heart-shaped!
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56 Brittany @ Itty Bits of Balance January 31, 2013 at 12:43 pm

Glad to see you had such a great day, birthday twin ;) And I feel ya on the Italian– Large family portions for one are where it’s at!
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57 Nicole @ Curly Mommy January 31, 2013 at 12:48 pm

First of all- I freaking LOVE italian food. I can really put some hurting on pizza. Sometime I’ll do a post on just exactly what I eat when it comes to pizza, and you won’t feel so alone :)

Happy belated Birthday- you look absolutely beautiful and glowing!!!! :)
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58 Kerry @ Totes My Oats January 31, 2013 at 12:55 pm

I love Italian! I eat it a lot – we make it at home a lot, though. Anything involving pasta, sauce, cheese, garlic and bread means I’m in :)
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59 Amy January 31, 2013 at 12:59 pm

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!

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60 Jess January 31, 2013 at 1:10 pm

Happy birthday, Courtney! All the food looks deeelish. Hope you have a wonderful post-birthday week ;-)

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61 Kaitlin @4loveofcarrots January 31, 2013 at 1:27 pm

sounds like a fantastic birthday!! Your dinner looks fantastic, I love eggplant parm. I would have to agree with you that rarely ppl talk about going out for Italian, myself included simply because I am not that big of a fan.
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62 Ellie@Fit for the Soul January 31, 2013 at 1:41 pm

Mmmm that eggplant parmesan looks to die for! I love all kinds of food and def. have featured some good Italian places on my blog :D It seems like you’ve been having a blast ;)
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63 Cassie @RedLetterDaye January 31, 2013 at 1:44 pm

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!
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64 Courtney January 31, 2013 at 4:40 pm

Oh how cool!! :)

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65 Stellina @ My Yogurt Addiction January 31, 2013 at 1:45 pm

Looks like a fun time!! I have to say I’ve loved almost all my birthdays but last year I was in Aruba the week before, and we basically celebrated everyday! :)
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66 Annette@FitnessPerks January 31, 2013 at 2:03 pm

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!
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67 Lauren January 31, 2013 at 2:20 pm

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!
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68 kim@hungryhealthygirl January 31, 2013 at 2:27 pm

You are not the only one….I definitely love me some Italian food!! Glad you’ve had such a wonderful b-day!!
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69 cassi January 31, 2013 at 2:49 pm

italian sounds like heaven right now. wish more italian places had gluten free bread crumbs!!! actually… i dont think I have seen any that have GF bread crumbs?
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70 Erica @ For the Sake of Cake January 31, 2013 at 3:54 pm

I LOVE Italian food! We have a great Italian place near me that is seriously no frills — the “dining room” basically looks like a cafeteria — but the food is awesome!

Funfetti cake is my favorite!
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71 Audrey January 31, 2013 at 3:56 pm

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!

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72 Katie @ Talk Less, Say More January 31, 2013 at 4:08 pm

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!
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73 Jenny January 31, 2013 at 5:57 pm

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!)

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74 Tara | Treble in the Kitchen January 31, 2013 at 10:09 pm

Looks like you had an amazing birthday!! :)
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75 Trisha January 31, 2013 at 11:17 pm

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. ;)
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76 Jenn February 1, 2013 at 8:41 am

I totally noticed that as well, not many bloggers eat out at Italian restaurants. We do! And often. Love it!
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77 Katie @ A Full Plate February 3, 2013 at 11:27 am

Happy birthday! sounds like you had a great one! I have to say your right about the not seeing Italian food on blogs…although I LOVE Italian food! I just realized I haven’t had any in awhile.
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78 Bek @ Crave February 3, 2013 at 11:42 pm

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

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79 Lindsay February 4, 2013 at 1:54 pm

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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