Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Golden Birthday & Vow Renewal

The year is 2009 and I'm at a bar in Annapolis for my 5-year high school reunion. I run into a friend I haven't seen in a while who tells me she's getting married in Vegas in a couple months so I drunkenly invite myself to join. I don't know if she feels obligated and awkward or if she legit is just hoping I'll ask to join, but by some miracle she welcomes me to join with open arms. The next day, when I've sobered up, I'm thinking I should reach out and apologize for my pushy brazenness and then graciously back out of the whole affair. But DrunkMe had already bought a plane ticket the night before, so...

That actual night. I'm in the center, she's on the left. Let's read her soul through her face. Does she have regrets? Does she wish she'd never seen me? Is she so happy I invited myself? What do you think? 

To this day, it remains the most fun I've ever had so I really cannot hate on DrunkMe for even one second. Flash forward eight years and Kristen and JT are still two of my favorite people and real life #relationshipgoals. In May of 2017 Kristen was celebrating her golden birthday--turning 31 on the 31st--and asked me to assist with her Golden event. But with a twist! Secretly, they'd also be renewing their vows and celebrating a life of love and happiness. 

Legit with Elvis and everything. This is the only wedding I've attended where I have cried.

Listen fam, not much has changed here. Kristen and JT are still #relationshipgoals and I'm still an overbearing control freak who pushes her way into all things. So did Kristen just want some help brainstorming? I dunno, maybe. Did I weasel my way into every detail and next thing you know she's spray painting her lawn ornaments gold? Yes, duh. Here is what we put together in just a few weeks. 

First, even though she probably didn't want me to, I designed an invitation suite. I actually designed two and I'll include both here, but Kristen was vehemently opposed to the palm frond suite. Like I've never seen someone have such a guttural reaction of hatred to leaves. 

Here is the suite we went with.

The venue was an amazing little gem in Edgewater, the Selby Community Center. There's not much to the building but it has nearly floor to ceiling windows and is right on the water so the lighting is the goat's grundle. It's a perfect blank slate and super affordable if you have a connection in the neighborhood. 

Remember the Vintage Carnival wedding I did with the thousands of handmade pinwheels? Bet you thought your girl was a hoarder for keeping all those pinwheels. THINK AGAIN SUCKA. Not only were they repurposed for this event, but I somehow managed to escape having to spray paint them and Kristen & co. did it all themselves. 

Not only did the pinwheels greet guests outside the building--they also served as vase fillers lining the banquet tables. The milk glass vases I already owned from my [also hoarder-y] stash. At the center of each table was a large lawn ornament spray painted gold to match. The gnome was from my own home and everything else was scooped up from Kristen & JT's yard. Golden mylar balloons were sprinkled throughout. Because why not? Sequin tablecloths and table runners were Amazon finds and were the bulk of the budget here (but, even still, not a huge expense). For the table greenery I went to Willow Oak Flower & Herb Farm and had them fill a bucket with snipped greens. 


I really tried to strong arm Kristen into a very strict gold palette for the candy bar, but she insisted on actual good candy and I'm so glad she did. It ended up looking great AND the candy selection was every 10 year old's [read: "my"] dream. Using the same greenery from the other tables, a gold table runner, and gold vessels helped to make it cohesive.


Kristen's mom supplied the cake, but we realized at the last minute that my cake stand was MIA, so I made do by simply flipping a gold bucket upside down and using that as a cake stand. 

For the photo backdrop I had grand plans to spell out "Everything is Golden" using this marquee letter method (but minus the lights bc it was broad daylight during this event)... but then I got started and remembered how long this took and "Everything is Golden" quickly turned into "Golden AF." šŸ¤·


Food was prepared mostly by JT (if I recall correctly--let's be honest, this event was 9 months ago) and served in metallic bowls and trays. I created home-printed food tags to match the invitation suite and laminated them with a small machine I have.

(This is me and my dude who carried around this roll like it was a tiny puppy and he was its cannibalistic mom.)

Saturday, September 2, 2017

2nd Birthday Taco TWOsday Party!

What do you do when your tiny baby is suddenly two? You eat your feelings with tacos. Therein lies the core motivation for this Taco TWOsday birthday party. 


I designed these thank you cards & invitations in PowerPoint, as per usual. The background is a photo of a serape blanket and fonts were NorthernSoul Caps, Sea Salt, and Just Awesome. I was #blessed in that the post office happened to have coordinating papel picado stamps. I printed these through VistaPrint and designed the envelope seals and envelopes to match. The note on the back of the invitations was "In lieu of gifts, please bring a non-perishable or two for Rowan to hand deliver to a Glen Burnie food pantry." It could be argued that there was too much taco here. LOL JK. That's ridiculous. 


As guests arrived, they were greeted on the porch by a large hand-lettered chalkboard sign. I tried my darnedest to make the hand lettering on this match the font on the invitations. The "wreath" was a piƱata cut in half.

Colorful tiki torches (holdovers from the Eleventh Birthday Luau) added height. The faux succulents were from Michaels. I purchased a few of these specifically because they reminded me of my molcajete for guacamole. 

A "Gracias" table was set-up to receive the donations for the food bank. The "Gracias" papel picado here was custom made and is from Lula Flora on Etsy. Here's the Before:

And here's the After:

Tiny donkeys from Oriental Trading were hidden throughout the party. They were also used as cupcake toppers.

A large cactus piƱata from Walmart (I actually purchased mine from Oriental Trading but it looks like they no longer have them) was used as a sucker pull with sombrero lollipops from Oriental Trading. The wooden "2" was Cynthia Rowley from Home Goods. Another cactus piƱata was outside by the drinks for extra tall decor. We already conveniently owned this Melissa & Doug lemonade/grocery store stand so we just pulled it out of the playroom for use at the party as a drink station. I added orange felt flowers and tossed on a Mexican placemat from Lulu & Georgia for extra fiesta vibes. 


Napkins & plates were from Oriental Trading and were also used for the Russian Doll Baby Shower. Fiesta paper straws were by Paperly Press on Etsy

The wall of the main spread was decorated with paper buntings from Oh Happy Day, plastic papel picado garlands from Oriental Trading, and a taco garland from Oriental Trading. I bought the giant T-W-O balloon ages ago from Zulily but when Party City was inflating them, the T and the O popped and had to be subbed with what they had there--hence the shiny W sandwiched between the other two matte letters. I decided since it was symmetrical it was okay, but totally was not the original plan.

The pennant hanging from the center of the table is fiesta themed but was also used at the Russian Doll Baby Shower and blended in perfectly there as well

This "Dos" papel picado & cacti highchair banner was custom made by Lula Flora on Etsy

The photo station was a photo backdrop stand that was flanked in vinyl serape table cloths and then covered in paper poms (from Oriental Trading) and honeycombs (from Ikea) and paper banners and garlands (from Oh Happy Day).


Food, of course, consisted primarily of a taco bar. The Taco Bar chalkboard was from Oriental Trading.  We served wheat and flour tortillas for soft shelled tacos and traditional taco shells with toppings of beef, beans, rice, sour cream, lettuce, and cheese. 

Mini faux molcajete bowls were from Amols'. Let's just stop right there for a minute and talk about Amols'--if you aren't using this place for fiesta supplies, you should be. Great prices, fast shipping, huge selection. (Plus, usually has a decent ebates cash back percentage!) Loved this place. The mini piƱata donkeys were from Oriental Trading. We even used one to top the cake!

On-theme snacks were littered throughout the house. We served homemade guacamole from a molcajete and queso in a fondue pot. Below are some tortilla chips & salsa, a plate of Goya Maria cookies, and carrot sticks with ranch dressing in little cactus shot glasses from Amols'


For beverages, we had Goya Refresco sodas, fresh lemonade, Coronas, and, of course, margaritas--served in cactus (plastic) glasses from Oriental Trading. Fiesta paper straws were by Paperly Press on Etsy


Cupcakes were plain vanilla with shipped icing, pre-ordered from Giant and then topped with either mini donkeys from Oriental Trading or little taco cookies I made with golden Oreos, candy eyes, gel icing, and red, yellow, brown, and green sprinkles. 

I also made sombrero cookies using Keebler sandies, gumdrops, frosting, and sprinkles. I got spiced gumdrops--that was a mistake. Don't do that. Just get plain gumdrops or dots. 

The cake was the real star here and was almost a complete failure. I own a piƱata cake pan, so I thought I would make this myself. It seemed simple enough. I was wrong. Please behold my original attempt. If you follow this blog, you may recall I ran into similar disastrous results whilst trying to make my own Russian Doll cake. Baking is, if you haven't guessed, not my strong suit.


The cake disaster was the night before the party so I was in a bit of a panic with no real time to fix this mess. LUCKILY, a precious angel Katie from my online mom group, who happens to be a pastry chef, swooped in and saved me--and this cake. And YES, this is the SAME CAKE--just cobbled back together and then iced by someone who actually knows what they're doing (aka, not me). 


The cake was topped with a mini piƱata donkey from Oriental Trading, a custom "Rowan" Papel Picado from Calavera Press on Etsy, and a glitter "Taco Bouta Party" topper from Paperly Press on Etsy. Number candle is from Oh Happy Day.

And! YES!!! It was still a piƱata cake after all! No thanks to me.


We threw this party from our home, so we were certainly short on space, but tried desperately not to be short on fun.

To get into the fiesta spirit, we provided fiesta bubbleshair flowers, and sombrero headbands--all from Oriental Trading.

I edited this photo of Rowan to include a fun sombrero and some text ("Pin the Stache on Senor Rowan"), had it printed extra large by Walgreens, attached it to a canvas, trimmed it with a paper garland from Oh Happy Day, and then added a paper pom flourish from Oriental Trading for a little extra sumpin sumpin. I made a couple mustache templates and then traced them on black paper for a variety of 'stache styles to choose from. 

Juego de Loteria (aka Bingo) was purchased from Amols' along with an assortment of Mexican-themed prizes like little dolls, maracas, marionettes, and keychains. 

It was quite cold out, but we did venture out to beat the crap out of a piƱata and to throw some cascarones (from Amols'). 

I wanted to dress to the theme without being in costume and found exactly what I envisioned at Eloquii. Similar top here. Skirt here (yes it has pockets!).


Rowan's actual birthday was the day after the party, so I was able to reuse party decor to setup a little photo shoot for him. His taco button up was from the Dragons Love Tacos line at Target, his leggings are H&M Treggings, shoes are Frye Chambers Slip Ons, hoodie is past season Old Navy, and bowtie is by The Snappy Sapling on Etsy. I think we got the mini sombrero at WalMart many moons ago. 

We also spent part of Rowan's actual birthday delivering the food his party had collected to the food pantry at a local church.