baked oats green chile chicken enchiladas chow mein bakery-style butter cookies

copyright jennifer yu © 2004-2023 all rights reserved: no photos or content may be reproduced without prior written consent

the way i see it

I’ve gone through phases when it comes to birthdays. It used to be that I couldn’t wait because it was such a big deal to be another year older! Wow, EIGHT!!

By the time I turned 16 it didn’t matter so much anymore and I learned that not having expectations for birthdays meant you wouldn’t be let down.

On my 21st birthday I went out drinking with my girlfriend and co-captain late into the night. The next day, during a grueling and hungover early morning pre-season volleyball practice, I decided to stop drinking alcohol altogether.

I don’t remember my 30th birthday because I was in graduate school and I’ve been told that the human mind tries to forget traumatic events as a protection mechanism.

Today I turned 40. My parents texted me a happy birthday message at 5 am.

When my dad turned 40, my sister and I ran around the house yelling “The BIG 4-0!!” and we thought it was so funny. 40… Who the hell turns 40? That’s so old! Well, I’m 40 now and I don’t feel any different from 39 any different from 32 any different from 25. It’s still me. I’m just me.

People have asked if I’m doing anything special for my birthday, but I think the people who know me best know that every day is special. And I guess that’s my point – I’m really grateful to have made it this far. I’m grateful every morning that I wake up because there was a time when I wasn’t sure I’d be here. So I’ll take any birthday, any day that comes and I’ll make the most of it and love it because I can’t imagine living any other way.

We’re on travel in southwestern Colorado on recon for the fall shoot. It’s the intersection of work and play. That’s how it always is on my birthday because that’s when the leaves start turning. They wait for no one.

glowing red like a beacon

they look like candy to me

The fall shoot is without a doubt, my favorite shoot of the year. Right now, it’s early in the season, but we’re already seeing more reds than usual and plenty of beautiful and healthy golds. I wonder if that has to do with the late and wet spring we had? It’s glorious.

warm colors

mix and match

My only request for my birthday was that I spend it with Jeremy. It didn’t matter if the leaves were green, gold, or purple (that would have been neat) – I just wanted to be together. The colors, the good weather, the mountains we love so much… all icing on the cake.

how’s that for icing?

sunset: just us, cattle, and two dudes revving their atvs in the background

Jeremy keeps saying, “Happy birthday!” and I instinctively reply, “Happy birthday!” He corrects me and says that it isn’t his birthday. I’ve always felt that birthdays are meant to be shared. So yes, it’s his birthday, and yours, and mine. Happy birthday, everyone! xo

72 nibbles at “the way i see it”

  1. Magda says:

    Happy Birthday!!

  2. Bing Chou says:

    I’m not too far behind you – happy birthday!

  3. fidan says:

    Yes, happy birthday and what a surprise to learn that we share birthdays! I really truly love your blog and have always felt we had a lot in common, but this !!… Love from Istanbul… :)

  4. merry jennifer says:

    I love this, Jen. Happy birthday to all of us! It’s just amazing to be alive and *living* this life. You’re so, so right about that.

  5. bea at La tartine gourmande says:

    Happy birthday to you! 40 is a good one! The simple every day can be celebrated and you seem to be doing that very well.

  6. Terri @ Terri's Table says:

    Happy Birthday!

  7. Theresa says:

    Happy birthday! I like your take on birthdays and being grateful for every day. That’s how I felt on my 30th birthday earlier this month – just so grateful for my life so far.

    If things had worked out schedule-wise this year, my husband and I would have been spending next week in Colorado enjoying the fall colors. Your photos (which are beautiful, by the way!) make me sad it didn’t work out this year, but oh well. Hopefully we can make it happen next year :)

  8. SMITH BITES says:

    can i tell you that it only gets better? i remember thinking 40 was an old number . . . but 40 was my best year ever . . . i met the professor when i was 40 . . . and every. single. day. since then has been a joy and celebrated as if it were a birthday . . . you’ve got it together Jen . . . here’s to many more birthdays

  9. Crystal says:

    Happy birthday! :)

  10. Erika says:

    What a lovely, thoughtful post. Everyone should embrace life the same way and enjoy every day and its beauty. Love the pictures, gorgeous shots. Happy birthday.

  11. Amy Q says:

    As always, your photos and sentiments are good for the soul. Hope your day brings your great joy!

  12. Nancy says:

    Happy Birthday!

  13. Manding says:

    these photos are making me weep.

  14. Perfecting Pru says:

    Sounds like a great way to spend your birthday Jen! Have a very happy day.


  15. Sara says:

    Happy birthday Jen! I’m a long time lurker, but I’d just like to say that I’ve followed your blog for quite some time now. I always find your photography and recipes beautiful and inspiring, but to be honest it’s your wonderful views on life and your incredibly positive attitude that keeps me coming back. Your posts always make me feel good about things, and inspire me to be a better person. Thanks for that.
    P.S you share the exact birthday of one of my best friends… he just turned 40 today as well. Off for celebrations!
    Happy birthday to us all!

  16. Susan says:

    Beautiful post, Jen.

    I totally agree with you.
    After C, everyday is icing.
    Your photography is a gift that you share with the world.
    I, for one, am incredibly grateful to experience it.

    Wishing you a wonderful day w/the ones that you love.

  17. Winnie says:

    Happy Bday Jen. I am so with you- I did not feel any different at 40 than I did at 25. Just feel like me. Love your photos, as always, and I am so glad you’re here to share them :)

  18. barb gornick says:

    Beautiful post, beautiful photos. I am pinning them on my Pinterest under my catagory board : photos that make me happy”

  19. Rachel says:

    A very happy birthday to you, Jen :)

  20. Nan says:

    HaPpY BiRtHdAY JEN!! May you have many more days to love life and laugh!! All the best, Nan

  21. Payal says:

    Lovely post. Happy Birthday to you!

  22. My German the Rockies says:

    Happy Birthday and a wonderful trip! Looking forward to your pictures.

  23. Debbie says:

    Happy Birthday Jen. Thank you for all that you photograph, blog, cook, share, etc. Many, many more!

  24. Caroline says:

    Happy birthday!!! I hope that you will get to gorge on tons of beautiful sushis! :)

  25. Kari Anne says:

    Happy, happy birthday, probably a bit late though considering the time difference. Greetings from Norway. Love your insights, your pictures and your recipes. Keep them coming!

  26. Warm Thoughts on a Dreary Day in DC! says:

    Nicely done and beautiful shots, Jen. Great philosophy and inspiration. Life is for the taking. I like that you seem to reach out and grab it each day. It’s so easy to forget that’s what we’re all here for! Enjoy the day.

    Waiting for some of that fall color to hit the East Coast.

  27. Anna says:

    That’s beautiful, Happy Birthday to you too. May you have many more happy ones to come.

  28. Emily@SavoryandSavage says:

    Happy Birthday to you!! I agree – everyday should be enjoyed!

  29. cindy says:

    I hear you about appreciating those birthdays. People who bitch about getting older are kind of missing the point, I think. Many happy wishes to you and Jeremy. Have an icing day. xo

  30. Troy says:

    Wishing you all the best – Happy Birthday to you yesterday, today and everyday! Hope you were able to find some purple leaves :)

  31. Camille says:

    Happy Birthday! Glad you get to spend it with the person you love, doing the things you love!!

  32. Lisa says:

    Happy Birthday from Richmond, BC! Reading your blog always makes my workday a little brighter. You inspire me. Thank you.

  33. Sheryl says:

    Happy Birthday, Jen!

  34. Sarah E. Welch says:

    What a beautiful post :)

  35. Collette says:

    Happy Birthday! I’m glad it’s wonderful for you, spending the day with your best friend. ;-)

  36. Judy says:

    Best birthday wishes! Looks and sounds like a great way to share the day.

  37. Manisha says:

    I am very glad that you are here, too! Your friendship is extra-special, just like you! A beautiful birthday to you, Jen!

  38. madoka says:

    Happy Birthday! And thank you for the gorgeous photos .. I’m currently at school in Illinois and am really missing the beautiful fall foliage in Colorado!

  39. Bev says:

    Happy birthday! Great pictures! (And a great blog too.) Here’s something that might suit your day: I believe that everyone else my age is an adult whereas I am merely in disguise.

  40. Christine says:

    Happy Birthday! Thanks for sharing the fall photos! They are beautiful!

  41. Jane M says:

    Happy Healthy Birthday to you! Your Fall photos are gorgeous. Maybe you can send some of your sunshine and clear crisp sunny days here to the Northeast. We’re in need here in NJ! Hope you will eat a GIANT piece of cake to celebrate!

  42. Lisa@The Cutting Edge of Ordinary says:

    Yeah Happy Birthday to us dammit!!! LOL
    Thanks for all you do for us….. your readers.

  43. cat says:

    Happy, happy birthday. I love those candy red leaves.

  44. tami says:

    Thank you for sharing yourself with us on this special day…and every other day. Happy Birthday, Jen! xox

  45. andrea says:

    Happy Birthday!!! Go 71ers! I just turned 40 on Aug 24th. I feel the same as you, its not really any different! Hope you have a great year ahead.

  46. Laura says:

    Happy Birthday! You’ve brought more joy and happiness to more people in your short 40 years than most people do in their entire lifetimes with your warmth, beautiful photos, delicious recipes, and wise insights. As my mother has said as far back as I can remember in her motherly, Chinese way, “You’re only as old as you feel.” That means that you’re just getting started!!

  47. Margie says:

    Happiest b/d to you, Jenzie! I am so thankful you are having your birthday, it means that I get to continue celebrating all that is, The House of Butter :))))))

    Seriously, I really, really am so thankful I found your blog! I am thankful for your inspiration.


  48. SallyBR says:

    Happy Birthday, Jen…

    yours was one of the first blogs I started to follow, because of a search for potstickers, that are STILL my favorite food in the whole world – I am glad I found your virtual spot, and I am glad you still put so much thought and energy and joy into it.

    Enjoy each day, birthday or not, it doesn’t matter – just be happy!

  49. Angela says:

    Happy birthday Jen!

  50. Alisa says:

    Happy Birthday, Jen!

  51. Amos says:

    So. You are one of the wealthiest friends I have. Every friend is
    A drop of gold- look how many you having wishing you a speial day.
    The photos are amazing. Thanks for posting bc it is my only way
    To enjoy fall now. Breathe in that crisp air for me. Love ya to pieces.

  52. PMack says:

    A birthday is a good reason to be very kind to yourself. I actually enjoy (and look forward to) them! May your “Happy Birthday” feeling last all year.

  53. amanda says:

    Happy Birthday to one spectacular lady!

  54. Kristin says:

    Happy birthday…just a few hours late!

  55. Carl says:

    Welcome to the beginning of The Age of Never.

  56. Jill says:

    Happy Birthday, and thank you for sharing…..because….being a Leap Year Baby, you never get enough!!!!! 40 is awesome, and 50 even better!!!!!! Wait until you hit double nickels!!!!!! Happy Happy to my survivor sister!

  57. Montserrat says:

    Happy Birthday!!!

  58. Bev says:

    Happy Birthday, Jen. And as the birthday song refrain goes, “…and Many More.” I just turned 68 and can’t believe it ‘cuz I feel 40. As long as my own Mom was with us, when she wished me a happy birthday, I turned it back to her, with a hug and kiss, saying, “Thank you for giving me birthdays!” Somehow reflecting good wishes to others makes the day happier for everyone (the way you toss it back to Jeremy). -B

  59. Elisabeth says:

    happy birthday, jen and thx so much for your wonderful butter during the years! :-)

  60. Melissa says:

    Loooove yoooooouuu. :)

    Glad you’re still here. Every day.

  61. audra says:

    shen re kwai le to you as well!! hope you got to spend a lovely birthday weekend doing your favorite things with your favorite people, and dog! and thank you, as always, for sharing the beauty you find.

  62. Lorane says:

    Happy Birthday! I am glad you had such a great day, and I hope many great things for you and your family.

  63. Kim from 3 peanuts says:

    Your photos are beautiful. We live in TX and I was trying to explain to my 5 yr old daughter what Fall looks like. She LOVED your images (especially the frost). We don’t really see that here.

  64. Kim from 3 peanuts says:

    Oh and Happy Birthday!

  65. Joy from Florida says:

    Happy Birthday to you – and to Jeremy! It looks like an absolutely perfect Birthday! Celebrating life abundantly! Everyday

  66. Suzy says:

    Happy birthday, and many returns of this happy day! I love what Sara wrote above, and I agree entirely.

    Your spunk and zest for life is good for us all.

  67. Pina says:

    This is just the way I see it too. Happy birthday!

  68. Mrs Ergül says:

    Happy birthday to one of my favourite person! Age is just a number so they say! We don’t celebrate much in a big way. Like you, the every days are the ones that matter.

  69. Sil says:

    Feliz cumpleaños, Jen!! And to Jeremy! And to all of us! Thank you for everything (the humor, the inspiration, the warmth…)!

  70. Heather @ The Wisch List says:

    Happy Birthday! This post is very well timed. You see A) I live San Francisco and am really missing fall right now. It’s completely my season and your photos brought it just a little closer. And B) I just had a birthday last week myself and feel exactly the same way. Your take on it all is lovely. Yes, every day is special. Thanks.

  71. Austin says:

    I have never left a comment on any blog in my entire life, and yet I felt compelled to leave one tonight. I read your blog avidly and when I saw that you say “Happy Birthday” back instinctively to Jeremy a huge grin popped up on my face. I too have that urge to repeat the “Happy Birthday” back to anyone who says it to me. I dont know, I feel as if they should have some part of the fun as well. My partner cannot quite figure it out either…
    I just wanted to comment and say what a small world it is and the commonalities that we all sometimes share is a beautiful thing. Happy Birthday and many more to come. Thanks for your inspirational posts.

  72. jenyu says:

    Thank you for all of the wonderful birthday wishes. You guys are the best :) xo

    fidan – happy birthday to you!

    Smith Bites – thank you, hon. And here’s to 40!! :)

    Sara – thank you! That is just so nice of you to write. Hope you and your best friend had a great time celebrating!

    Rachel – xxoo

    Cindy – thank you, sweetheart. I’m gonna be in your hood soon! We should do lunch :)

    Manisha – *hugs* to you, my dear dear friend.

    Lisa @ The Cutting Edge of Ordinary – you’re hilarious :)

    tami – xo

    andrea – woooo!!!

    Laura – so sweet of you. thank you xo

    Amos – love you, Amos. Come visit us. I wanna meet Alejandra!

    Jill – double nickels ? :) That’s so cute!

    Melissa – right back atchya girl. xo

    Mrs Ergül – thank you! xo

    Sil – besos.

    Austin – thank you for commenting and yes, I think some of us DO feel the need to say it right back to others :) xo

leave a reply