straight up & thirty


While the white gold ring I received with my favorite quote (Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.  Live the life you’ve always imagined) engraved was definitely up there, the best gift I ever received, hands down, was a scrapbook. Now, it’s not like the noodle necklace you receive from your five year old, where you sort of have to love it just because it was made with so much love and paint and paste, somehow. 

For my thirtieth birthday, The Suitor hunted down my friends and family and demanded they include a story, or photo, or something for the book.  Each page is dedicated to a different person who’s influenced my life.  He found photos of me with my parents when I was three, had my parents write me letters.  I cried, I mean really sobbed, with the flip of each page.  He set the viewing to music, including CDs for me to play as I navigated through the album. He’d orchestrated all of this behind my back, and normally, pulling off something so grand without my knowledge would raise a knee-jerk red flag.  I’d cough up a “capable of being deceitful.”  But he used his powers for good.  It wasn’t a love fest of just us.  It was that he included all my friends and family, assembled with care, late at night with adhesive spray, stamps, stickers, and paint.  I never felt as loved. And it’s something I’ll always have, a reminder of my life up until I turned thirty.  I still look through it every now and then when I miss my friends.  I feel so blessed.  It’s amazing how efforts like that trump anything money can buy.  I know it sounds like a cliche, but really, they’re cliches for a reason.  They’re just true.  Love is simple that way.

Img_4061 Img_4060Img_4062



  1. He completes you…….cliche I know, but it fits! That is the most awesome gift in the world. Sort of reminds me of Elizabethtown, how she puts his road trip together for him, that was awesome! I don't think I am that creative! LOL

  2. What a truly beautiful and thoughtful gift, no wonder you were crying!! I bet like you felt as if you were the luckiest woman in the world as you were reading that!

    Jen x

  3. The suitor is amazing! What a thoughtful and considerate gift! I practically had a taco stuck in my throat looking at these wonderful photos of you and your loved ones—knowing that your sweetheart did this for you. Did you cry???

    Your thirties are going to be incredible—even better than your twenties. (Just my opinion though!)

  4. a) What man does this?!?!

    b) Seriously, how hard was turning 30? Cause I think I may have a nervous breakdown.

    c) T is soo getting shown this post, with strict instructions. Subtlety gets me no where.

  5. That man is a keeper :-)

    What a beautiful scrapbook! Now you've motivated me to go get working on my own- I've got a huge bin filled with photos to scrapbook. I need a new house just so I can have a "scrapbook room".

    And to Buffy above- when I turned 30 I was *so* upset. I took it really hard. And you know what? My 30's have been better than my 20's! Well, different, at least. I'm a different person now.

    But I'm turning 33 in a few weeks, and I'm taking it hard than now I'll be in my "mid-thirties" and can no longer say "early-thirties"! :-) It's never easy for us women, is it?

    Anyway, Ms. Klein, what a lovely present, I'm so glad you shared it with us!

  6. I love it! I did this exactly 4 years back for my dads 50th birthday. From experience I can say that it is such a labor of love to complete both timewise and monetary (paper, book, pictures, stamps, etc) that it should be treasured even more. The one I made my dad included friends and family from his 50 years and took 3 months to put together. Enjoy Stephanie……..a love like that comes once a lifetime if lucky enough.

  7. ahh he's a keeper. i just heard about your blog in elle. and i thought that your article was amazing. it inspired me to read more.. it was really helpful.!

  8. That was really sweet…I remember Mommy and I cried when we were looking at it.

    Although, it may have been the liquid crack margaritas. We were shit faced! I could go for one right about, oh, um…NOW.

    Now that I am flashing back…I am totally craving that green salsa that they made in that place. Any ideas on how it's made? Cilantro and ????

  9. WendyMac,
    I felt the same way, then it turned out that 33 was my favorite year. But I know how you feel–in 14 days I will be 46. I'm feeling too close to 50 (but still feeling like a kid).

  10. Wow. What else is there to say?
    I got tears in my eyes just looking at it. How thoughtful. WOW!
    Buffy, 30 isn't so bad … 35 is rough because you are now *in your 30's* and 37 – ouch … too close to 40 and you still feel 30(ish) …
    HAPPY BIRTHDAY STEPHANIE! You and the Suitor are an inspiration to all!

  11. There have been so many times when the candor or humor of your writing has touched me. Today I cried. Ok, I am TOTALLY going through PMS, but I couldn't get over that gift. If any one has ever silently said, "Ilove you", it was the suitor. I hope you treasure him and the gift always.

  12. I am such a fan and loved this post to death. What an inspiration! I want to scrapbook forever and ever.
    I just read the Elle feature and ouch, I am ready to write them a letter about you! How awful- that is not fair! But we your supporters will love you forever, regardless!

    you and the suitor== forever and ever

  13. Thank you for sharing. I can tell you were apprehensive about discussing the Suitor's gift so soon after your birthday so you waited. That was nice. It showed you still appreciate the gift. Your character and "this is me. Deal with it." attitude makes me want to be more myself and less what others want.

  14. You go girl! What an awesome boyfriend, sounds like one in a million. Makes all my controversial comments null and void. In this world we strive to be completely comfortable in our own skin, and then and only then do we strive for that other half, that person who wouldn't want us any other way than exactly as we are, foibles and follies and all. Everyone else in the whole wide world be damned. I am truly happy for you, you deserve all the happiness in the world!

  15. I love the category name with the wordplay on suitor. So clever. And what an amazing gift. Seriously.

  16. Would your knee jerk reaction to a wonderfully thoughtful gift of this kind be that the person might be able to deceive you on another front? And i must ask you, did you reprimand the suitor at all for the sneakiness that this activity must have required? Sorry, i had to ask.

  17. Yes, the Suitor is a special guy and easily the right guy, for you Stephanie. This is one of those "Master Card Moments"
    PRICELESS. Enjoy and treasure this because moments like this don't come around everyday!!!

    Columns like this, are what make you unique, Stephanie!!!!!
    Here's a toast to many more!!!!!

  18. Wow, I’m really diggin’ the suitor! Job Well Done! I loved the way he orchestrated everything amongst your nearest and dearest behind your back that takes moxie! The simple things/gestures do stand out don’t they? I cherish all the mix tapes/cds I’ve received over the years they seem to be able to burn a hole in my heart.

  19. Long time reader, first time commenter (such a cheesy line but it's accurate!)…

    Felt the need to finally comment because that's also my favorite quote. It really inspires me. But I never thought to have it engraved on something. Hmmm…good idea. Can't wait for your book. :-)

  20. Fingers crossed that I will find someone capable of a scrapbook…fingers crossed for someone at all. I just discovered you through Elle. I have never read anyone's blog before, and I popped my cherry with you. It has been good times. I will buy the book, hard-back and full-priced, no problem. I love a jcrew catalog even if I can't wear most of the clothing (pants squish the ass, shoulders a bit too narrow), think equal parts wine and water chased with ibuprofen should make me feel good in the morning, and also was involved with the type of guy with M.D. behind the name. Too bad I'm not in Austin…

  21. "…. For my thirtieth birthday back in September .." for those of you who are wishing Stephanie happy birthday TOday …

    Anyway I clicked on the link to view the photos —
    (1) Steog why were you crying at the table?
    (2) LEA which one are you? You sound like such a lovely character!

  22. Thanks for sharing.
    My best friend is getting married and i was thinking of gifting her a scrapbook; just didnt know where to start; now i do.

  23. So you're saying that during your living together in NY, packing, move and unpacking you never once spotted the edging scissors and doll-clothes-like appliques? Forget "…capable of being deceitful." You're slipping.

  24. We weren't living together, or engaged, at the time he culled together the items for this book. We were engaged in November (right before Thanksgiving), so he did have his own apartment as his crafting studio, and when I was over, he managed to hide all the goods. And believe it or not, this book wasn't all he gave me for my birthday gift. There was a ring, a dinner, and a lot more planning involved. A keeper, indeed.

  25. LOVED THIS! My 30th birthday was a fiasco. I agreed to go on a BLIND DATE. That has disaster written all over it. I would love to receive such a gift. Thoughtful beyond words. That is true love tied up in a neat little package. Congrats Steph for finding your Mr. Right. You so deserve him.

  26. The album itself is lovely. I was looking for something similar — my brother just went to the little town where we grew up and took photos of the old neighborhood, etc. & I wanted to put the photos together for my parents. I can't find a decent stationary store in Vegas. Would you please ask Phil if this is from Kate's Paperie? It's not on their website, but that's the best place in NY (or anywhere, IMHO) for this kind of thing.

  27. If you haven't ever heard it, please listen to Tristan Prettyman's "Simple As It Should Be"…one of my favorite songs in life that I think of whenever I read any post you've written about The Suitor, and especially with this one. Congratulations on everything; can't wait for the book!

  28. Wow – what an amzing and wonderfuk and kind thing to do! THe suiter prooves that men like that exist. Now for u – just enjoy and appreciate!

  29. Happy belated!

    And you're both so blessed to have found each other.

    "I love you without condition."

    That's just… wow. Beautiful. Congratulations!

  30. From a long-time (albeit silent) reader:

    Today's Ziggy cartoon says the perfect mouthful(for those accessing this link after July 5, click on "previous" to go back to that date). Couldn't resist passing it on!

    Thanks for helping a straight-up-and-almost-thirty Long Island native get the courage to FINALLY agree to move with her husband to Scottsdale, Arizona! After all, if one fish out of Long Island Sound can adapt to a new pond, can't others?

  31. Truly Lovely.

    For my 31st – i threw a '10th anniversary of my 21st birthday' party – and it was the best freaking party EVER. It was so much fun!

    You need to do that this year – it actually makes getting older fun! :)

  32. Hey, I just had to comment:

    1) absolutely wonderful gift, the type you always dream of…actually the type I always dream of giving someone…

    2) we have exactly the same birthday…I too turned 30 on September 29, 2005! Great day to be born…I share it with my grandma too.

  33. Hey,
    I liked your photos which is how I found the blog; I liked the blog and really think you're a terrific writer, but never had a chance to meet you. Now I find out you have the same birthday as my wife! It figures, great minds think alike!!
    Hope Austin is treating you well…

  34. "…turning thirty isn`t nervous breakdown stuff." You`re so right, Carol. I`m turning 33 in two weeks and I feel better now than ten years ago. Age is only a number.

  35. wow! i didn't realize men were capable of being that creative and thoughtful?! congrats on finding him. all i can say is cherish…cherish it all! and all i can ask is can we clone him?

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.