Blueberry Pie + 29 Things I Learned at 29


Tomorrow, I am turning 23 for the sixth time! I am just that talented. No, but in all seriousness, I have never been one to be afraid of getting older. Whenever someone complains about the clock turning I simply say, “it’s better than the alternative! You’re not dead!” Morbid? Yes. True? Absolutely. I am embracing getting closer to 30, dammit! It is one step closer to being old enough for it to be socially acceptable to sit at the table with my pants undone and say whatever comes to my mind out loud.

It’s easy to look back and wish that you had the opportunity to do some things in your late teens and early twenties all over again. For instance, maybe you would pick a more useful college major, or travel more. But I find that I actually have enjoyed being in my late twenties more than any of the other years before. I have learned a lot, but I know that there is still more that I will absorb along the way. So today, I provide you with a list of 29 things I’ve learned at 29 as well as a recipe for blueberry pie so that you can make it for your loves ones on their upcoming warm weather birthdays.


  1. Go with your gut. It doesn’t matter if the people around you think you are a little nuts in the moment, I often find that if I go with my gut, I am grateful that I listened. I know myself better now than ever and I feel more secure to go with my instinct whatever the consequences may be afterwards. Sometime I would ignore my gut feeling in exchange for public acceptance, but I learned that it isn’t worth it in the long run. So now I go with my gut confidently when it comes to making big choices like where to live or small ones, like eating that delicious slice of NYC pizza. Sometimes, that slice is just worth the calories.
  1. Listen to your mother. I find that listening to my mother has rarely led me to go wrong. Mothers are wise, they are strong, and they have your best interest at heart. My mom is my hero and I admire her every single day. There is absolutely nothing like a mother’s love.


  1. Listen to your dad. Dads know their stuff as well. My dad is pretty levelheaded and he has taught me to look at both sides of a story before drawing any conclusions. He has taught me that honesty is the best policy. He also has demonstrated the delicate balancing act of being a good parent and a best friend to your children.


  1. Love your body in all forms. There are times when I travel and return to the States a few pounds heavier. For instance, when I was 21 and living in Italy for almost five months, I ate pasta for lunch and dinner pretty much every day and came back looking like a stuffed sausage in my jeans. I was a bit chubby, but I was so happy. It was one of the best times of my entire life. When I got home, I ate super healthy and exercised regularly to get back to my normal weight, but in that phase of life, the pasta tasted like heaven on earth and I never laughed so hard in my life. I made some of my closest friends over a second helping of fresh mozzarella. Now that I am 29 and the lbs. don’t shed as easily, I am careful about what I eat, but I make sure that I love what I look like no matter what size I am. It is sexy to be confident in your own body.
  1. Forgiveness is crucial. Forgive people who aren’t even sorry. I know people who have been crushed by anger. I once heard someone very wise say, “being angry with someone is like taking poison and hoping that the other person dies.” Life is too short to hold onto anger. I make mistakes and I hope that people will forgive me, which is another reason why I find it important to forgive others. No one is perfect.
  1. Floss every day. My fiancé and Ellen DeGeneres have both taught me the importance of flossing and now I can’t believe that I haven’t been doing this my whole life. Your gums will stop bleeding after a few weeks and it will become second nature. Seriously, floss. It is really gross to not floss daily.
  1. It is okay to fail. Some of my greatest failures have turned into my greatest successes. Trying and failing is better than not trying at all. When it comes to my career I have pretty much said “yes” to everything, even if it was above my head, I figured it was a good opportunity to learn important things on the spot
  1. Let the people around you know how much you love them. I have never regretted showing my full hand when it comes to letting the people I care about know how much love I have for them. It is never too late to let people know what you feel!


  1. Always have a book that you’re reading. I find I am happiest when I am reading for pleasure at all times. A good book will always win out to a TV show or a movie. I feel like I am smarter after I have my nose in a book that day.
  1. Roll with the punches. Plans will change. Life is not a fairytale. We don’t always have control over a situation, but we do have control over our attitude. I handle a situation much better now when things don’t go according to my plans than I did when I was younger. I thought that by now I would be on a stage in front of thousands of people or have my own television show… I don’t, yet… but I am really grateful for where my life is at in this moment. I love my fiancé, my family, my friends and my job. Best of all, everyone, including myself, has their health. The rest is just gravy.
  1. Spend time with your younger cousins and your nieces/nephews AND with the elderly. I have loved countless moments with my younger loved ones. I relish the ages when they still let me kiss them non-stop and I cherish the endless rounds of karaoke where we pretend to be Taylor Swift or The Little Mermaid. I love when they confide in me and ask for my advice. It is so humbling and so rewarding. You never can get that time back with your relatives when they are kids. Savor every moment. Also, I love old people. I love old people so much and maybe that’s partly because my mother says I was born as an old soul. Old people are much wiser and they are a gift. I lost all of my grandparents physically or mentally at too young of an age. I always envy those who still have their grandparents. Soak them in while you can because you will miss them very deeply when they are gone.


  1. Learn how to cook. I might be biased since I am a chef, but learning how to cook is empowering. It is also rewarding, very useful, sexy, and a means to providing health to you, your family, and even strangers. Learning how to cook was one of the best things I ever did in my whole life.
  1. Vegetables are delicious and anyone who thinks otherwise is crazy. Eat vegetables whenever you get the chance and taste produce that you never thought you can ever enjoy.


  1. You are never going to be able to make everyone happy. My wedding planner looked at me once and said, “You can’t make everyone happy. You’re not a jar of Nutella.” Truer words have never been spoken. Be honest, open, and do what makes you happy instead of always trying to please everyone else. I have wasted too much time worrying about what other people think. I learned that I have to just be myself and be okay with wherever the chips may fall.
  1. Never take a sibling for granted for one single second. Your relationship with your siblings is different than any other. Appreciate them every day. My brother is the coolest and I am pretty sure that he knows that I am his number one fan. When your parents are ill, or they are just driving you crazy, your brothers or sisters are the only ones who can truly understand what you are going through. Make sure that they always know that they are loved, sometimes it has to be tough love and sometimes it has to be gushy, as long as they know how much they are loved.


  1. Run even when you don’t want to run. No one hates going for a jog more than I do. Ugh, I hate just thinking about it. I have to go lace up my sneakers today and I don’t want to at all, but once I do, I regret it 0% of the time. When you think you need to stop, just keep going. YOU CAN FINISH! Smile at strangers when you are running. It helps me when strangers give me a knowing smile.


  1. When it comes to your love life, don’t kiss someone who doesn’t look at you like you are a delicious slice of chocolate cake. They aren’t worth your time. You are better than that. I would rather be with my friends any day over wasting my time in a romantic relationship that is mediocre at best. Finding love ain’t easy, but when you do it’s totally worth the wait. I did a lot of waiting around, but now I am grateful that I found my piece of chocolate cake.


  1. Be a great hugger and have a solid handshake. Hug someone like you really mean it… Give your family, friends, and even strangers the full bear hug treatment. I have found that a good hug can really turn my entire day around. I have a friend from Texas named Sarah and we love to give each other a nice, long marathon-hug that lasts for what feels like is as long as 26.2 miles. It’s amazing. Also, nothing is worse than a clammy, dead fish handshake. Nothing. You know what I am talking about. Make sure your handshakes are firm without hurting someone. Also, if you are a guy, don’t do that thing where you flip your hand to be on top. That is so annoying.


  1. Roast your own red peppers every single time. Do it. Just click here to learn how. It’s super easy and far superior to any store bought version.
  1. Call your family and friends. Enough with all the text messaging and emailing. Phone calls are the way to go and they bring you closer to your loved ones. I think back on the phone calls/Skype sessions I had with my Uncle Phil and they are some of my most treasured memories. A real conversation is good to balance out the texting and emails.

me and uncle phil

  1. Know that there is always room for improvement. Things that you think are 100% right might be proven wrong in 10 years from now. Be humble enough to accept that and always keep an open mind.
  1. Laugh hard and laugh often. Life isn’t always going to be easy. In fact, there are many times when it is going to downright suck. Be sure that you laugh as much as you possibly can.


  1. Be patient. Don’t fly off the handle right away. Ugh, this one is not always easy for me, especially when someone is being very annoying. Sometimes, it is unintentional though and it’s good to be patient through the process. Except if someone doesn’t dress their baby properly in the wintertime while they themselves are bundled up in a hat, scarf, jacket, and mittens. Then, all bets are off.
  1. Fun doesn’t just happen on it’s own. You have to make it happen. Have dinner parties and get dressed up. There aren’t enough occasions to get fancy, so make them happen every now and again. I love putting on a dress, getting my hair and makeup done, and hitting the town. Often, we are all working so hard and lose track of finding some balance in our lives. Have a date night where you get dressed up and also throw themed parties.


  1. Travel often and travel well if you can. Take trips with your friends. See the world. Experience other cultures. Walk as much as possible to soak it all up and live in the moment. Buy the bag in Monaco and eat the gelato in Florence. Traveling with people who crack you up is the very best way to travel. Shit gets crazy throughout traveling and you just have to be with someone who makes you laugh to get through the madness.


  1. Don’t get a crazy haircut after a breakup. Don’t cut all of your hair off right after a guy breaks your heart. Wait at least six months before making any rash hair decisions.
  1. Live within your means. Have a savings account by the time you are 29 and make sure that it has more than $18. You don’t need that Burberry jacket, the Prada bag, or the luxury vehicle if it’s something that you can’t afford. Wait until you’re like 40 or 50 when you can afford that kind of stuff. That way, it can truly be appreciated without being a terrible financial burden. This makes me really excited to be 40 or 50 now!
  1. Pray every day. This one is the most important. Praise God and thank Him for everything that you’ve got. I have learned to turn to the Lord for guidance for I know that I am nothing without Him. Be humble and always crave to gain more knowledge about your faith. When you walk with God, you never walk alone.
  1. The world is unpredictable. Don’t get too bummed out when plans change because it’s inevitable. You will get hurt. Your heart will get broken. You will lose someone you love and there is no greater pain. Your car will break down and you may even develop an intolerance to gluten. That’s life. Accept it and just keep moving forward because with all of those hardships, life is still an incredible journey.



Blueberry Pie
  • Filling:
  • 9-inch pie crust
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • Dash of salt
  • 4 cups blueberries

  • Crumb Topping:
  • 1 cup of all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup firm butter, very cold
  • ½ brown sugar (packed)
  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together sugar, flour, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt.
  3. Then mix blueberries with your dry sugar/flour mixture.
  4. Place all topping ingredients in a food processor and blend.
  5. Put blueberry mixture into pie shell and then cover with topping. Place on a baking sheet that is covered with tin foil.
  6. Bake for 45-50 mins. If pie starts browning, use another piece of tin foil to cover pie while it’s baking to prevent the top from burning.


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