Birthday Weekend


This weekend, I turned the big 3-7. (I sort of can’t believe I’m three years from forty. In my head, I’m still 28. Yet, here I am!) Anyway, the boys were so, so sweet, and Alex and I went to two restaurants that were new to us. Here are a few photos, if you’d like to see…



Alex and I used my birthday as an excuse to go out to dinner two nights in a row! We’ve recently gotten stuck in a restaurant rut, where we go to the same three places on rotation, so it was fun to try some new spots.

First, we went to Semilla, a “vegetable-forward” restaurant in Williamsburg, which means that the dishes focus on seasonal veggies, while meat and fish are just supporting players. Guests sit around a horseshoe-shaped bar, with the waiters serving dishes from the middle.

Our favorite part of the meal came right at the start: tall, thin shot glasses with warm pear and cheese soup. It sounds insane, but it was so good; I would come back just for that soup. The other dishes were also surprising and delicious — lots of cabbage and beets and sweet potatoes, with great twists and textures.

Semilla Brooklyn bathroom

One funny part? The bathroom had a one-way mirror looking into the kitchen!

Babu Ji restaurant

The following night, we went to Babu Ji, a cool Indian restaurant in the East Village. Apparently, the Hindi term Babu Ji playfully means the self-appointed mayor of the neighborhood, who knows everyone and everything (and all the gossip).

Babu Ji restaurant

The restaurant felt boisterous and animated — we talked to the couples at the tables on either side of us, and the food was spicy and amazing. It was one of those nights that reminds you why you live in NYC.

Babu Ji restaurant

Guests grab beers from a fridge in the dining room, which adds to the relaxed vibe.

Babu Ji restaurant

The three dishes we loved most: the appetizer of cauliflower fried in a tomato chili sauce. The entree of butter chicken in a ginger, garlic, tomato and fenugreek curry. And the homemade dessert of cardamom, honey and pistachio kulfi, which were like chewy milky popsicles. So good!

Blowing out the candles

Birthday cake

Lastly, on Sunday, we had cake at home with the boys. We invited our friends, who have three children, and all the kids had to dress up in fancy clothes (although Toby went the race-car driver route). We served pigs in blankets and tater tots, plus Shirley Temples for everyone. It was such a sweet night. Toby and Anton also wrapped up some of their toys to “give” to me, which was so adorable (I got the toy guitar and lightsaber I always wanted!!!).


The boys couldn’t quite grasp my age, so I drew out fifty numbers and then circled our ages. The chart made the boys look so tiny, it brought tears to my eyes! And Toby kept pointing to numbers and asking, “Have you been seven?” “Have you been twelve?” “Have you been twenty?!” It was kind of poignant and amazing to stop and think about.

Birthday cake

Finally, we ended the busy weekend by watching House Hunters International and falling asleep at 9:30 p.m… all in all, the perfect night. :) The weekend was wonderful, I kept pinching myself. Thank you so much for reading, and hope you had a good one. xoxoxo

P.S. Two birthday revelations I’ve had, and beautiful gold candles.

(Semilla photos by Ed Lefkowicz/The New York Times. Babu Ji food photo by Tirzah Brott/New York Magazine. Babu Ji beers photo by Samira Bouaou/Epoch Times.)

  1. Shauna says...

    Happy Birthday! I’m a longtime fan of your blog, and my goodness I had to comment on how much your son Anton looks like your sister Lucy in your most recent posts. The last image on this post and the image of you and your sister on your weekend post – spitting image!

  2. Kari says...

    Happy belated B-day Joanna! I too am a late Jan birthday (the 27th); just turned 36. I’ve been reading your blog since before I got married (right after you got married), and love your posts. I haven’t been reading many blogs lately b/c I stay home with our two boys who are 3y and 1y and as you know life gets ridiculous, BUT every night my husband and I watch PBS Newshour after putting our boys to bed, and tonight your sister was on being interviewed about her late husband’s book. The whole segment was so emotional to me that I realized just how much of an impact your blog has had on me and I wanted to tell you so. Thanks for sharing so much of your beautiful, honest life with us! (and I bought the book :)

  3. natasha says...

    I hope you had a great birthday!

  4. Marita says...

    Joanna, your blog has been one of my favourites for years and years. Many years ago now I wrote you an email (after you wrote about breastfeeding weaning-related depression, because I was planning on becoming a midwife – I’m now almost graduated my midwifery degree!) and you wrote back and it made me so happy. You have always been so relatable and kind, and even though I never comment, I had to write to say happy birthday!

    I wanted to comment on this post especially because I was so excited to see that you went to Babu Ji because I know the owners Jessi and Jennifer Singh, and see their posts about their new NYC venture on facebook all the time! I lived in Kyneton, Australia (near Melbourne) when they opened their VERY first restaurant, Dhaba at the Mill, probably 6 or 7 years ago. I actually worked there for a little while before moving back to Canada for school. They have ALWAYS had incredible food, and they are the most lovely family. So it made me incredibly happy to see a shoutout for their restaurant on one of my favourite blogs!

    Anyways, happiest of birthdays to you and your sister! It looks like it was great, and I’m so glad that you keep sharing your world with us. From a long-time fan <3

  5. Debbie says...

    Happy Birthday Jo……does anyone call you JoJo ? Lol I love reading the comments of all these amazing women !!!

  6. Lauren says...

    Like another commenter, I fall into the not-sure-I’ll-ever-want-kids camp, but your stories about Toby and Anton are one of my favorite things. You share their experiences in such a raw, poignant way that I get to relive my own childhood for a moment, such a special part of life.

    I’m sure you’ve received offers, but you should seriously consider writing a book, maybe a series of essays about love, motherhood, and personal identity. I would buy it in a heartbeat!

    p.s. cheers to 37! you look freaking fantastic!

    • Couldn’t agree more! Can’t wait to read your first book one of these days.

  7. such a beautiful way to explain age to young’ns!

  8. Katherine says...

    Happy belated birthday Joanna!

  9. f says...

    happy (belated) birthday! looks like it was really nice… i just turned 36 and in the same boat. i swear, i feel like i’m 28! but my grays peeking out say otherwise… ;-)

  10. Love the pictures of the boys! I have been following your blog for some time now and I can’t believe how big Toby is – it makes me feel so old!

  11. I met Lucy during a reading/signing she did for Paul’s book at Kepler’s last night, and wished her a happy belated birthday (because I’d happened to read this post yesterday!). I hope that wasn’t weird. :}

  12. Maria says...

    Happy Birthday! It looks you had a great time with your beautiful family!

  13. (a fellow) Joanna says...

    Happiest birthday, Joanna!

    I just want to say a huge thank you for sharing so many of your sweetest, saddest, hilarious and moving moments with us.
    I’m a long time reader and as someone who is 90% sure I don’t want children, I was afraid that I would lose interest in your blog when you had them. But since you had the boys, my love for your blog has only grown. Your birthday celebration with the boys and story about explaining age is just so precious.
    I truly appreciate the way that you have addressed the decision to have children or not in past entries; and created a warm place for women of all walks to discuss the issue. Know that for some of us without kids, hearing tales your sweetest moments together brings such happiness.

  14. Margaux LeBuffe says...

    happy birthday! You’re my favorite blogger, and I’m only 25! This post made me tear up, as many do! I enjoyed a meal at babu ji last year, and it was one of my favorite meals of 2016. Definitely agree with your sentiment about it being a night that reminds us why we live here.


  15. Tiffany says...

    Happy Birthday!! I wanted to mention, in the childhood photo you posted of you and your twin, I saw in her your son Anton :)

  16. jess says...

    Happy Birthday my favourite blogger. I too am turning 37 this year, but am not at all freaked out after my 35th (which was a scary one.) My mother in law and and her brother came for a cup of tea on my birthday and I was all “Ugh im ssooo old”… then realized how ridiculous I sounded moaning to a 70 and 75 year old about my age! Kinda put things in perspective for me!
    Growing old is a privileged, not everyone gets to do it. x

  17. Sounds like the perfect birthday weekend! LOTS OF EATING. And I LOVE the birthday chart you made for your boys! Your age being far from theirs must have felt weird to see on paper but having them ask if you had been 7 and 20 is so cute!

  18. Thoa says...

    Happy Birthday! I enjoy reading your blog immensely. I also have two young boys and graduated from Umich. You are the sweetest! Cheers!!

  19. What a lovely post! Looks like you had a great birthday! I have to try out Babuji! In our part of the world, it is also a respectful name for your father. (my dad and mom called my grandfathers by that name but it has slowly faded away). I still call my father’s older brother who is the patriarch of the family by that name.

  20. Happy Birthday! A fellow Aquarian. My husband and I celebrate birthdays this weekend.
    Looks like it was a lovely birthday..

  21. cristina says...

    Happy Birthay Jo.
    On 27 of january it was my 37 birthday too..and it’s so very strange but I do fill like 27..also have a son of may he’ll be 6 years old…also like house hunters international..apart of all these matches i’ve discovered you recently and just love your blog. I’ m not s native english so I apologize if I made any mistake.
    I fortgot to mention- I live in Spain.

  22. Happy birthday, Joanna! Looks like a lovely birthday!!!!

  23. Bridie says...

    Happy birthday! I live in Australia near the original restaurant by the same owners of Babu ji, and you’re right, it’s bloody brilliant food! :)

  24. Happy belated birthday Joanne! Your photographs tell us such a wonderful story! Warm regards!

  25. Beatrice says...

    Happy birthday !!!

  26. Anna says...

    Happy birthday! Babu Ji in Melbourne is on of our favourites for date nights! Glad to see the ny branch has taken off

  27. Belated happy birthday! I just celebrated my birthday last week as well. Missing the food in NYC for sure on special occasions, but the Bay Area isn’t so bad either. My toddler remembers my age but somehow thinks that my husband (who’s about 10 years older) is only 1 year old. Go figure.

  28. Renae says...

    Oh happy belated birthday! Lovely photos – I thought at first the bowl of tater tots in the first shot was a bowl of caramel popcorn – and determined the kids must have loved that as a side dish!

  29. Melissa says...

    Happy Belated Birthday, Joanna! It sounds like the sweetest time with your dear ones.

  30. Happy Belated birthday Joanne. You do have the sweetest boys and I love looking at your little family. So sweet. Did they help you with the candles?

  31. Ingrid says...

    I’m glad you had such a nice birthday weekend. Thanks for sharing it with us. (I’m 68 and I STILL feel like 28 on the inside! Outside, not so much…)

    • Sally says...

      I’m 67 and feel exactly the same.

  32. Shane says...

    Joanna, that is a wonderful way to demonstrate ages!! Maybe also giving each person in the family a jar and put in beans to represent each age? You’ve got me thinking! Great idea!

  33. Kristi says...

    I love those pictures you took, of your family — the love in their eyes is heartwarming :)

  34. Irene says...

    Joanna – where did you get that blue/navy shirt?! It’s awesome.