a birthday at Old Westbury Gardens

April 18, 2011 |  Category:   life outings


I had a really good birthday this weekend. Never mind that I was sort of struck by how old I was in a way that I wasn’t last year (I’ll get to that in a different post), but I spent it with lunches and dinners out with friends starting mid-week last week, including a spontaneous visit with my old, half-Asian rapper friend, Pete, on Saturday. Felt like old times when we were hanging out all the time and meeting each other up last minute and walking all over the city.

That evening, Saturday, I went to bed before midnight for the first time in many months and slept almost 9 hours. Sunday morning, the storm from the previous night cleared, and we went to the Old Westbury Gardens. I haven’t been there in about 15 years and I’m not sure why we never took the kids there considering it’s just a few minutes from where my parents live because it’s seriously like a little kid paradise of secret gardens waiting to be discovered. The trees were still pretty bare and few flowers were in bloom, but it was beautiful nonetheless and the girls were super happy to be running around this magical place. Can you believe that this was once a private residence? The mansion, and specifically the dining room, which was kept intact in period furnishings is pretty insane.

So if you’re wondering what’s up with the oysters, Mark planned a special surprise picnic with all this amazing food, including fresh oysters that he shucked right there at the picnic tables. Oh yeah, and 7 layer chocolate/white chocolate birthday cake (edit: yes, yes. Mark made the cake). And super delicious Korean food dinner with my parents later that night. Yeah, really good birthday.

I’m back to my old ways staying up way too late tonight (watching my hero, PJ Harvey live at the Youtube Coachella stream), but it’s Spring Break, the girls don’t have school in the morning and hopefully they’ll catch the hint with the bowls of cereal we left out for them on the table and let me sleep in.

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  • Stéphanie April 18, 2011 at 1:57 am

    happy birthday !!

  • Erin April 18, 2011 at 2:45 am

    Happy Birthday, Jenna! What an amazing place to celebrate with a yummy picnic. The grounds and that mansion are stunning.

  • Linnea April 18, 2011 at 3:14 am

    Looks just perfect:)

  • Egle April 18, 2011 at 3:18 am

    Happy B-day, Jenna! It seems that your birthday picnic was really awesome.

  • siri April 18, 2011 at 4:07 am

    Sleep and an endless supply of really good food sounds like the best birthday. ever. That’s what I’m going to wish for this year. Also, despite how old you are on paper (and maybe how old your body feels?), you, my friend, still look about 10 years younger than you actually are.

  • Ling + Lem April 18, 2011 at 4:45 am

    Glad that you had such splendid birthday, Jenna! I am marvel at your 7-layer cake 🙂

  • ftenshin April 18, 2011 at 5:03 am

    happy belated birthday Jenna! the picnic sure looks fab, esp love the pic of you & Claudine, it’s so heart warming

  • sylvï April 18, 2011 at 5:27 am

    i’m looking for a new place to live, so it’s not good to start dreaming about gardens like those… so dreamy!

    pj sure has done it again with the new album. i have kind of lost track of what’s going on in music in the past years, but youtube has lured me into listening her new (and old) stuff. a while back i was writing into the ‘friendship book’ of a ten-year-old (my friends’ kid) and one of the questions asked to name an idol. only two came to mind: pj harvey and princess leia organa.

    happy birthday! that photo of you reaching for the hand of your child in the woods is especially wonderful.

  • Emma April 18, 2011 at 7:38 am

    What a beautiful stately old home! And that cake looks epic – I would very much like a piece of that.

    Happy birthday 🙂

  • Mandy April 18, 2011 at 7:56 am

    Beautiful photos, as always. It’s my birthday too (today), so it’s particularly lovely to read this post. How lucky we are to be able to spend these days with the ones we love.

  • Mandy April 18, 2011 at 7:57 am

    and oh yes, happy birthday.

  • Susan April 18, 2011 at 8:15 am

    Happy Belated Birthday! What a beautiful, decadent place you visited…I am adding that to my must see list. And that cake—oh my!

  • Kristina April 18, 2011 at 8:25 am

    Happy birthday! Don’t worry age is nothing but a number 😉 Photos are fantastic, it looks like you had a great time.

  • Dinah April 18, 2011 at 8:31 am

    Happy Belated, Jenna! Looks like a wonderful time.

  • Atsuko April 18, 2011 at 8:34 am

    Happy Birthday, Jenna!

    What a gorgeous garden and architecture Old Westbury Gardens is! Of all, you have such a wonderful husband who planned for the surprise picnic. Did he bake the cake?

  • jodi April 18, 2011 at 9:20 am

    happy, happy birthday! looks like you had a wonderful day.

  • Paige Davidson April 18, 2011 at 9:40 am

    Thanks for the Pete Miser link! It’s got me dancing in the studio this morning.

  • Justine April 18, 2011 at 10:02 am

    Happy Birthday, Jenna! I’m so glad you got some sleep!!
    What I want to know is, did your girls eat any of the picnic besides the cake?! What a nice hubby. Oysters! Can you please write a post in which Mark isn’t making something wonderful or looking so generally supportive. Like do you have a picture of him with a “taxes #@!^%#@!” face? It would make the rest of us feel better. 😉

  • Annika April 18, 2011 at 10:27 am

    Happy belated birthday!
    Sounds like such a perfect weekend for a birthday. Love all the pictures!

  • SY April 18, 2011 at 11:30 am

    Um, could Mark please give my husband lessons on how to assemble the perfect picnic? Lucky you, this seemed like a perfect celebration. BTW, did he make the cake or purchase it? Happy Birthday!

  • sarah April 18, 2011 at 11:33 am

    That looks like the most perfect birthday lunch ever. I just had oysters for the first time last year & now whenever I see them it takes me back to sitting in Pt. Reyes eating them by the seashore. Yum!
    I’m glad you had a beautiful birthday complete with that awesome layered cake.

    oh, and I agree with @Justine’s comment about mark! 🙂

  • Sandy April 18, 2011 at 11:36 am

    gorgeous! wow…what a lovely day!

  • angie April 18, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    happy belated birthday, jenna! it looks like you guys had such a lovely time. the food looks great and the place is so serene! and i LOVE that sweet photo of you kissing claudine. aw.

  • Nichole Robertson April 18, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    Happy Birthday Jenna!

    It looks like you had a fantastic day!

  • Michelle | GOLD-hearted Girl April 18, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    Tat looks like an amazing way to spend a birthday. Happy, happy birthday! Oysters are such a treat. 🙂

  • emmy April 18, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    Happy b-day! Beautiful pictures!

  • Lecia April 18, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    That picnic looks AMAZING! Let’s find something to celebrate and have one like that this summer, ok?

    I’m glad your birthday was so nice. Wonderful images.

  • Loren April 18, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    Food, flowers, friends, family and fun? Happy Fabulous birthday, Jenna! It sounded beautiful and special.

  • Jennelle April 18, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    Happy belated birthday!

    Oh, and that birthday cake looks really yummy *drool*

  • shruthi April 18, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    Happy bday Jenna – may everyday be filled with friends, family, fun and laughter.

  • celine April 18, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    happy birthday! 🙂
    and what beautiful gardens!

  • Annie From Seattle April 18, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    Happy, happy, happy birthday, Jenna! Smoking awesome picnic, beautiful kids, beautiful day, great hubby. Life is good! Enjoy!

  • Jenna April 18, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    Thanks for the birthday wishes everyone! Yes, Mark made the cake and Justine, Mia is a fan of the raw oysters as much as we are!

  • Caroline April 18, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    Um yeh your husband needs to conduct workshops for husbands on how to put together the most fantastic picnic ever, like portable oyster shucking?? WOW o.O! And sleep?Sounds like one happy birthday alright!

  • Clara April 18, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    Happy Birthday, Jenna! I’m so envious of that cake! Glad you had a wonderful day with your family.

  • Brittany H April 18, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    This sure does look like a magnificent day. And what a great picnic! I loved looking though the pictures. It does look like a wonderland. Could you imagine living there?

    How’s your Monday?
    You Are My Favorite

  • Jill April 18, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    I just burst out into happy tears at my desk seeing that picture of you and Claudine. (I know, I’m mega sappy.) Wow. So precious. And so happy for you that you had a great birthday!

  • Cynthia April 18, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    Jenna, Happy Birthday and many more! Love the pictures…I’m mentally making a note of all these lovely places you have shown us through your blog, to hopefully visit one day. And I agree on the picnic and cake….This looks like a spread in a fancy magazine. You and your family are very blessed! Maybe you could submit it to Bon Appetit!

  • Kaci April 18, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    Happy birthday!! I’m glad you got to spend your birthday weekend with people you love. And the picnic looks really awesome 🙂

  • rebecca April 18, 2011 at 6:30 pm

    happy birthday !
    may this new year be filled with many more discoveries, surprises, cakes and sleep !

  • wakako April 18, 2011 at 11:04 pm

    happy birthday! looks like a wonderful place to visit on the special day…

    i recently blogged about your blog! thank you so much for always inspiring:)

    -wakako

  • patricia April 18, 2011 at 11:40 pm

    That looks perfectly idyllic! So glad that you had such a great time. 🙂

  • Nicole Franzen April 19, 2011 at 8:06 am

    my idea of a good time, in a garden with cheese and oysters. looks divine

  • Chantale April 19, 2011 at 9:06 am

    Happy belated birthday Jenna! Looks like a great time was had by all. You’ve got a sweet hubby there and a great family. You are lucky indeed. : ) Bonne fête ma belle.

  • bronwyn April 19, 2011 at 9:19 am

    Happy birthday! Beautiful picnic, beautiful gardens, beautiful family. What a great way to spend the day.

  • Annie April 19, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    what a nice birthday!! 🙂 I thought these gardens looked very familiar.. I’m sad to say I grew up on Long Island and have never been here in person!

  • jenny April 20, 2011 at 5:00 am

    happy belated birthday! it all looks so amazing. can i get a man to make me a seven-layer cake, please?

  • Renita April 21, 2011 at 3:26 am

    Happy Birthday!

  • taylor April 21, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    happy belated b-day, and I have to say, “life” has taken me away from keeping up with my blog and especially from keeping up with other people’s blogs – so I am SO happy that I took the time to peek in on Sweet Fine Day this afternoon. I love your photos; your family is beautiful..and this post makes me want to take a trip up north to see those gardens!

  • Jen Laceda April 21, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    Happy belated birthday!! This garden is gorgeous!!! Looks like you guys actually flew to Europe for the picnic! You are soooo lucky to have a hubby who bakes 🙂

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