Thursday, November 28, 2013

From Day 1 to 30

Happy Thanksgiving!

November :: Thankfulness. Everyone is riding the holiday wave, coming off of Halloween and heading into Christmas. So, somehow, Thanksgiving gets nearly a full month of focus. Not that I'm complaining. If it were up to me, I would stretch fall throughout the entire year. Maybe one month of spring and one of winter. But, pretty much just fall. Rather than trying to make myself write a Facebook post of thankfulness each day of the month, as is the trend, I thought I'd spare everyone's newsfeed space (and also, there's no way I would be able to keep that up every day) and just do one post dedicated to being thankful. A whole 30 days worth. Without further ado...

Day 1: I am thankful to be a child of God. It makes everything else I am thankful for possible.

Day 2: I am thankful for grace. Both holy and that of those I love. Because I am deeply flawed (anyone else?) and mess up sometimes a lot. It might be something small like dropping my phone on my child (you know, hypothetically) or something big like putting my selfish needs before that of a good friend and failing them in a time of need or forgetting to make prayer a priority. But, by grace, in all of these scenarios I am able to acknowledge the mistake, apologize, and try again. Grace is a wonderful thing, and I do hope it is something others see me extend to them.

Day 3: I am thankful for my little family. My husband, who is not only my friend and partner but my oh-so-needed gut check and our current provider. My baby girl who helps keep my ego in check. On a daily basis. Being a stay-home mom has narrowed my world view a little, and I am so thankful these two are my world. Even at their worst (which isn't often), they are still the best parts of my life. Love and cherish them both dearly. And Sadie. She's a good pup.

Day 4: I am thankful for my mom. She raised me, and that's reason enough to be grateful. But, she continually provides me with a great support system and friendship.

Day 5: I am thankful for my in-laws. It's not easy to incorporate yourself into someone else's family, and it's not easy to also incorporate them into yours. But, I have a pretty great group of people who have really adopted me into their lives.

Day 6: I am thankful for food. Don't judge me. I love and appreciate good food. That's part of why I married my husband. (not joking...)

Day 7: I am thankful for fall. It's football, leaves, cozy clothes, jeans, fires, cocoa, cider, pumpkin everything, baking, cool breezes, and beautiful.

Day 8: I am thankful for coffee and wine. They each have a job to do. And they do it well.

Day 9: I am thankful for the internet. Seriously, I am old enough to remember times when we didn't have it, but how did we function??!

Day 10: I am thankful for a home. It may not be the home I want forever, but I am humbled by having one and knowing there are so many who would love to be homeowners.

Day 11: I am thankful for small businesses. They keep the American dream alive, and they feed the middle class.

Day 12: I am thankful for cell phones. They annoy me, but they've also kept me sane, safe, and in touch.

Day 13: I am thankful for digital photography. I wouldn't be able to afford taking pictures with film. 200 files from a two hour stint at Halloween. Yep, that's me. Thank God for digital.

Day 14: I am thankful for stay-at-home moms. I so admire each woman's decision to do this. It's not soap operas and bon-bons.

Day 15: I am thankful for working moms. I so admire each woman's decision to do this. It's not easy.

Day 16: I am thankful for little ones sleeping through the night. (or at least putting themselves back to sleep)

Day 17: I am thankful for formula. I never thought we'd need or use it, but I am so appreciative that it was an option for us since breastfeeding was not.

Day 18: I am thankful for pizza. Not much else to say about this.

Day 19: I am thankful for music. It has so much power over me. I can use it to change, enhance, define, or ignore a mood. I wish I could contribute musically in life, but I can appreciate it.

Day 20: I am thankful for pillows. All three of mine. Graham would argue I should be thankful for less of them, but I say more is more.

Day 21: I am thankful for good friends. So many times I have learned the harshness of people, but I know I am blessed to have a few good people to call friends. I love each of you.

Day 22: I am thankful for TV and good books. There is such a value for things that entertain and/or distract us.

Day 23: I am thankful for education. I loved it (though I hate paying for it), and I am so grateful to live in a country where education is valued.

Day 24: I am thankful for clean sheets. Mmmm......

Day 25: I am thankful for blogs. They are a great environment for sharing personal experiences and opinions.

Day 26: I am thankful for chocolate. The fact that I was able to put it this far down the list shows great patience on my part.

Day 27: I am thankful for literacy. My life and knowledge base would suffer without the ability to read the wisdom and creativity of others or the ability to chronicle my thoughts and feelings.

Day 28: I am thankful for chocolate chip cookies. This is different than my appreciation of chocolate. There is something so therapeutic about baking cookies and passing them out to loved ones. 

Day 29: I am thankful for the holiday spirit. The collective feeling of warmth, giving, appreciation, excitement, joy, anticipation, love, and friendship is never stronger than the days leading up to Thanksgiving and Christmas.

And, finally, Day 30: I am thankful for the beautiful blue mountains that surround me (or are closeby). They are constant reminders of the beauty life offers and the promise of finding something precious and familiar in this crazy world. They let me know I have found my true home.

As a bonus, I'm also thankful for you, dear readers. However few of you there may be, I am grateful that you took a few minutes of your day to share in my gratitude. Would love to hear your reasons to be thankful!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

From Party to Party

This summer and fall were filled with events. (I mentioned them here.)  I thought it would be fun to share some of the ideas I used, the results, and the stories from these events. I had a blast planning/hosting/attending but I am so glad to have some slower time (kidding, it's the holidays!!).
Note: my wonderful mom helped in some form or another with all of these events. Yay for moms! I also got great help from my mother-in-law for the first party on the list!

A Dear Friend's Wedding Reception (Following Destination Wedding)

"We don't need a reception." Yep, one of my very good friends uttered those words. I was unable to travel to attend the wedding. I am a romantic sap. And, I couldn't have been happier these two were tying the knot. So, of course, I decided that was an invitation for me to plan a reception for them back home after their destination wedding and honeymoon (yes, they got both!).

Of course, while I would have loved to plan a reception with an unlimited budget, I didn't really have that as an option. So, the challenge was to create a party that was big on celebration and love but small on cost. After much collaborating with other friends and family members, and oh-so-much Pinteresting, here's what the party looked like.


My cooperative husband did the big food items...Brunswick Stew, Barbecue, Baked Beans, and a keg in his homemade kegerator. The dessert table (in B&W above) was one of my favorite features. Candy + yummy sweets? Sign me up. And the couple's photos were so lovely, I had to use them as a major part of the décor. The venue was perfect for what we needed. Plenty of space for tables, food, sweets, gifts, and dancing. Plus, it overlooked a lake and was set back from the rest of the public area (which happened to be a park). I stayed within my budget and was able to repurposed MANY of the items for other events. Perfect. I had so much fun doing this, and I am so thrilled they let me be a part of their celebration. My only regret? I planned and planned...but I planned too much for myself to do night of to be able to break away for taking pics. Luckily, I had several amazing helpers who snatched the camera throughout the night. One of those helpers would have the favor returned at her baby shower...more in a minute.

Next Up: A Bachelorette Party in My Home State
Sometimes you know someone so long you've actually already planned future celebrations. Like a bachelorette party. The only problem? Timing. We've been friends for 20 years, and somehow the ideal party I'd envisioned for her a decade ago didn't seem appropriate now. We needed a sophisticated celebration that reflected who she is and what she enjoys. And I had to plan it several states away. So while I might have done something completely different, like host a grown up slumber party, if I lived in the state, I decided to throw a progressive bachelorette party. Only, rather than different homes, we traveled to different locations in the course of a day where people could come and go as they were able. And, it was a blast. Our agenda:
  • Lunch at a quaint tea room (perfect kickoff...though the bride and I got drenched in a torrential rain on the way in. Ah, stories)
  • Wine at a local winery. So relaxing and so easy.
  • Spa time (mani/pedi) for the bride and I. A great way to take a break and still keep the celebration going.
  • Check in to a hotel where we met up with the other bridesmaid to have a quick toast and change before heading off to...
  • Dinner (at a super yummy pick of the bride's).
Post celebration, we headed back to the hotel and worked on last-minute wedding details. Easy enough to plan from far away and a great way to incorporate several fun elements throughout the day. It also helped work into different people's schedules so they could attend. Another fail on pictures, I'm afraid. But here are two great ones...

Next: Returning the Favor--A Baby Shower!!!
When someone does an incredible job throwing a party in your honor, the first thing you probably want to do is thank them. Next on my list: throw them a party in return. When one of my awesome friends threw me a perfect baby shower last year, I immediately started thinking of the day when I could return the favor. Luckily for me (okay, and them!), that day came sooner than expected when my friend told me they were expecting earlier this year. Yes!! A new baby and a baby shower were on their way. This friend had also helped with the wedding reception, so I knew I could count on the help of the new bride to help pull this off. In addition, another friend of the mommy-to-be co-hosted (and held the shower at her house) to also return the shower favor. We had so much fun putting this together! I was able to repurpose some of the items I had from the other events, as well as purchase some new ones to tailor the décor to the theme (which was a jungle/fun type of shower). Here's what it looked like:

Seriously, so much fun. And such a deserving momma-to-be (well, as I write this, she is momma-in the-making...). I can't wait to meet her little man!!

I had one more big event this little's first birthday party. Partly because I might still be in denial and partly because this is already a freakishly long post, I am saving that for another day. But, I have committed to 7 prescheduled posts from now until Christmas, so stay tuned!