Stranger Things Surprise Birthday Party

Seriously – could anything possibly top a Stranger Things birthday party?? Only one thing could, and it’s a SURPRISE Stranger Things birthday party, on the very day that the new season was released on Netflix. *angels singing*

Our dear friend Sheridan wanted to throw this party to celebrate her husband, Jeremy, and asked if I would mind helping/hosting, to which I immediately responded “YAAAASSSSSSSSS.” With the help of a few friends, she was able to bring her amazing vision to life, and I am still so impressed with how this party came together!

In keeping with the Stranger Things theme, she tacked up “Missing” posters of Barb, Will, and Jeremy all over the house. She also set up display on the stairs featuring Dungeons and Dragons, a record player, a baseball bat, and a bicycle! I painted the Castle Byers sign for her, which they used in the living room. String lights were everywhere, of course, and the living room was transformed into one giant blanket fort.

The dining room was the pièce de résistance, though – we couldn’t have a Stranger Things party without the infamous alphabet wall!

Even though Brandon almost ruined it….lol…thankfully Jeremy was COMPLETELY surprised when they came inside! We had so much fun hanging out, listening to the Stranger Things soundtrack, and snacking.

For the food, we set up an Eggo waffle bar with loads of toppings (including fried chicken strips!), chips and salsa, birthday cake, and “Demagorgan Blood” punch.

We had asked guests to come dressed in 80’s costumes or like a character from the show, so I dressed up as Barb! After we all took some pictures together, we settled in to watch the first episode of the newest season together, and ended up watching four or five more episodes before the night was over.

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Are you as ready for Season 3 as we are??

If you need help planning a party on a budget, picking a theme, or figuring out a menu or decorating scheme…let me know! I’d love to schedule a consultation with you (“consultation” can be defined as “let’s go get ice cream and hang out”). 

Vegas, Baby!

Once again – I am blogging about Vegas WAYYYY too late, but better late than never! This mini-getaway was SO much fun, especially since the majority of it was free!! I earned the trip as an incentive through the hair products company I’m part of, and I’m so glad I worked my butt off and got to go. We felt like total tourists and didn’t even care, ate amazing food, and soaked up the gorgeous view from our hotel room. I will never forget walking into our room on the first night, pushing back the curtains, seeing all the lights from the strip and screaming “We’re in a free hotel room!!!” Such a cool opportunity, and hopefully not my last!

Our strip started with three absolutely heavenly things: Hopdoddy Burger Bar (with fries so good they might make you cry), Starbucks (the only place where “Daniel” is too difficult of a name to spell), and a double rainbow sighting at the airport right outside our gate.

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I love traveling, but especially when it’s with him. ♥

We had a choice between Paris and Planet Hollywood, and on the advice from several friends, decided to stay at Planet Hollywood. And I’m really glad we did. The room was huge, the hotel was modern and fun, and like I said – our view was spectacular.

For our first full day in Vegas, I spent most of the day in training, and it was AWESOME. The energy in the room; the stories that were shared; being the first to find out about new products and updates – I loved every second! Daniel had to entertain himself while I was busy, but we met for lunch at Gordon Ramsay’s burger place inside our hotel, and yummmmmm. Super good.

After lunch, Daniel told me I had to try one of the old-fashioned slot machines with the handle you pull – so I did! I put in $10, got it up to $15, and got nervous, so I cashed out. Haha!

We had some free time in the afternoon, so we decided to walk around the Strip a little before it was time to get ready for the gala that night. It felt like we were right in the middle of the action!

Watching the fountain shows in front of the Bellagio was one thing I really wanted to do while we were in Vegas. Luckily, we got to see them multiple times, including from our own room!

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After our mini walking tour, we headed back to fancy up for the evening.

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MONAT had reserved the entire second floor of the hotel for our event, and even took over the elevators!! It was so fun getting to dress up, eat dinner with my friend Juli and her husband, and then dance (and photobomb other people’s pictures) at the reception after dinner! Easily one of the most fun things I’ve done with MONAT so far.

I just love her.

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And him. He was such a good sport that night.

The next two days were free days to ourselves! We spent Thursday exploring more of the Strip and eating ridiculously good food.

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Our first stop was the Bellagio, which was right across the street from our hotel. I had read about the gorgeous chihuly ceiling in the lobby, and I wanted to see the conservatory and botanical gardens as well. They did not disappoint!

They change the displays out every season, and we got to see the fall display!I was blown away by the size of those peacocks. See all the different colors in their feathers? INDIVIDUAL ROSES.

 So. Many. Roses!!!

We also got to see the world’s largest chocolate fountain…

…AND this massive sports bar with virtually every game that could possibly have been on at that moment. (Probably not the world’s largest but still enormous.)

After taking in everything there was to see at the Bellagio, we walked over the Caesar’s Palace and wandered around in the Forum Shops. We made it just in time to watch “The Fall of Atlantis,” an animatronic show with special effects…

…like actual flames!

We had lunch at the Bacchanal Buffet inside Caesar’s (O…M…G) and then headed back to the Strip to walk off the 30 pounds of food we ate. Seriously – best buffet I have ever been to. You know how most buffets have, like, decent food at most stations and then one or two really good stations? At this place, EVERY station was the good station. They had gourmet sliders and fries, mini chicken and waffles (my fav), make-your-own street tacos, sushi, kobe beef, a dozen kinds of pasta, seafood, a crêpes station, gelato…….I truly don’t know if I have ever been that full after a meal, before or since.

Even though it was quite a walk (and once we got there, I got real depressed thinking about having to walk all the way back), I’m really glad we made it up to the Venetian. The Grand Canal Shoppes were really beautiful, and I loved watching the gondolas! Plus, we found a really cool hat shop and some giant art installments to take cheesy pictures in front of.

These next two pictures are literally just pictures we took for other people – the Holsteins one is for my family (“Holshteen’s books eez eh book shop”, lolllll) and the Transformers one is for Daniel’s brother, Isaiah. :)

Thursday night, we had dinner at this fabulous Italian place that Daniel’s boss had recommended called Scarpetta. It’s inside the Cosmopolitan and gets two thumbs wayyyyy, way up. Literally the best pasta I’ve ever had. And after dinner, we went to see DAVID COPPERFIELD!! Which I sadly took no pictures of, because it’s not allowed. Lol.

David Copperfield is a legend, and I was really pumped about the chance to see him in person. Although, I have to admit – his show felt just a teeny bit stale, almost like he was a bit bored with it. I kind of get it though. After all, he’s been doing this for decades. But still, what a show!! He did multiple things we had no explanation for, including making enormous objects appear and disappear out of thin air. Definitely entertaining!

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On Friday, our final day in town, we wanted to visit Fremont Street. I wish we could have gone at night, but it was still neat to walk around and look at all the old neon (and people watch – there are some weeeeeeirdos in Old Vegas!!).

We ate lunch at a cute little place called Therapy that had amazing deconstructed s’mores and took a walk through Container Park, an offbeat mini shopping center built from shipping containers. The playground in the middle looked like a giant tree house. We were obsessed with the atmosphere and spent almost an hour just hanging out on the terrace before we had to head to the airport for our flight home.

Probably one of the funniest parts about planning this trip was trying to figure out what to do with our free time, besides eat. I remember googling “what to do in Vegas if you don’t gamble or go clubbing” and was a little surprised by how many articles popped up about things to do with your kids in Vegas. And I was just like, whyyyy would you ever take kids to Vegas?? Who knows.

All things considered, I don’t know that Vegas would have ever been on our bucket lists, but hey – if someone tells me I earned or won a free trip somewhere, I’m gonna go!! Thanks, MONAT, for an awesome getaway! ♥

 

13 Going on 30 Surprise Party

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My beautiful friend Courtnie turned 30 recently, and I had the honor of helping plan her surprise birthday party! Her husband Andy planned the event and invited a bunch of us via Facebook, and when I reached out to him to see if he needed any help, he immediately took me up on my offer. I asked what he had planned, and his response was, “Umm I was thinking like cake, maybe some balloons and a happy birthday sign?”I chuckled to myself. Oh, I can do better than that. I probably should have warned Andy – when I plan a party? I don’t just do cake. I needed a theme, and 13 Going on 30 was absolutely perfect. And Courtnie is the very definition of 30, flirty, and thriving! :)

Easily my favorite decorations from the party. I made faux Sparkle and Poise magazine covers as a nod to the movie and printed them off to put in the frames.

Once I decided on the theme, the decorating was easy. I opted for a “sleepover” decor scheme, incorporating slumber party necessities like junk food and beauty supplies. I bought the gold “30” balloons, some teen magazines, and scrunchies, and borrowed a few things from my own stash, including the big white chalkboard. All of the serving dishes and table decor are things I’ve picked up over the years, and I’m glad to have such a big inventory to draw from.

I also owe a big thank you to Paige Scott for letting me borrow her daughter’s dollhouse!! It was the perfect movie tie-in and statement piece, and it got lots of compliments.

For the food, I decided to do an 80’s themed candy bar with fruit roll-ups, gummy bears, Ring Pops, Sour Patch kids, and – of course, Razzles. We also had bottles of Coke, popcorn, and cherry chip cake, Courtnie’s favorite!

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That cake though – I am super proud of that cake. You don’t even know. It’s the first time I’ve ever tried to make a cake with flat layers, and thanks to some tips from my mom, I did it! AND I even frosted it as a semi-naked cake without messing it up. SO. PROUD.

This party was so fun, and I can’t wait to plan more birthday parties in the future!

 If you need help planning a party on a budget, picking a theme, or figuring out a menu or decorating scheme…let me know! I’d love to schedule a consultation with you (“consultation” can be defined as “let’s go get ice cream and hang out”). 

What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do

A photo by Matthew Wiebe. unsplash.com/photos/tBtuxtLvAZs

I’m convinced that once you graduate high school, your life afterward is just one big question mark after another. Do you go to college, or not? What kind of job should you look for? Do you stay close to home, or venture off somewhere new? How do you decide who to marry, when to have kids, when you’ve had enough kids, how long to stay in a particular job before moving on, how much to save for retirement, and where to grow old with your spouse? I struggle with remembering what day it is sometimes, and I’m expected to figure all of that stuff out?! Sheesh. I can’t believe I wanted to be an adult when I was little. I want to go back  to nap time and someone else cooking all my meals for me. Only half kidding. :) But seriously, adulthood is hard. There’s no manual for it. Everyone’s life path is unique, and all of us are faced with difficult choices from time to time. And your twenties are extra intimidating, because the choices you make during that season will literally direct the rest of your life.

So…what do you do when you don’t know what to do?

Think about what you DO know.
There may be a lot of things up in the air, but I’m willing to bet there are still a few things that you’re sure of. No matter who you are, one thing will always be certain: You are seen, known, and adored by God. This knowledge alone should bring all kinds of motivation, joy, and obedience if you are a follower of Jesus. As believers, we know that regardless of our marital status, age, financial position, knowledge level, or career path, we are all called to do two things: (1) love God and (2) love people. Nine times out of ten, when I feel like I just keep running into a spiritual or mental wall, it’s because I’m not spending time with God and I’m not serving others with a kind heart. So if you’re in a rut, ask yourself – are you doing those two things? Are you genuinely growing in your love for the Lord? Are you actively looking for ways to love others around you?

Remember who is in control of your emotions.
Emotions were created by God, which makes them GOOD. It’s okay to feel, and to feel deeply! This is one of things that makes us human. God didn’t create us to be robotic, dragging dully through life with our eyes glazed over like zombies. On the other hand, however, emotions were not created to carry us away like a rushing current. I struggle with this a lot. It’s easy to be overtaken at times by sadness, anger, or fear, but in those overwhelming moments, you have to dial it back. Take a breath and ask God to give you a clear mind. YOU are in control of your emotions. They are not in control of you. Don’t give Satan a foothold.

Talk out loud to God.
Few things in my life have strengthened my relationship with God as much as this has. It might feel weird at first, especially if you’ve never done it before. But just try it! You might be surprised by what comes out of your mouth – or what doesn’t. I’ve been made aware of sin in my life because as I was talking to God in my car, He brought something to my mind and I didn’t want to talk about it out loud. Verbalizing your prayers is also a great way to keep yourself from getting distracted. I know I’m not the one who has done this: “God, thank you for your grace today…thank you for my husband…thank you for our home and our friends…oh crap, I forgot to text Ashley back…I need to figure out what we’re going to have for dinner tonight…”

Take some time for yourself.
Having “me time” or “alone time” is really hard for some people to do, especially if you’re an extrovert, a parent, or a people-pleaser. Sometimes, though, one of the best things you can do for yourself is to just take care of yourself. If you spend all your energy pouring out but never allow yourself to be poured into, you WILL wear out. If you’re tired, worried, or stretched too thin, set aside a day, an evening, or even just an hour to do something that’s just for you. Take a bath; watch something funny on Netflix; take your dog for a walk; do something crafty; bake your favorite dessert. And maybe try that talking out loud to God thing while you do it. Spending time with the Lord and doing something that brings you joy is an easy way to fill your empty cup back up.

Surround yourself with encouragers.
This is a big one. We were not created to go through life, including the hard parts, alone. We need each other, and God designed it that way on purpose! Whether you find it through family, friends, your church, or elsewhere, community is both healthy and necessary. Daniel and I have experienced some truly awful heartache in the last year, and I can confidently say that one of the biggest reasons we survived is because of our foundation group through our church. Having people around you who pray for you, grieve with you, and help meet your needs is life-giving. It is so much easier to carry a heavy burden when you have multiple pairs of hands (Galatians 6:2). If you don’t like to let people in, pray that God would give you courage and willingness to build relationships with solid people. If you aren’t plugged into a community, find one. If you don’t know where to find one, email me. :)

Learn to be okay with waiting.
Lately, I’ve been reading this fabulous book by Wendy Pope called Wait and See, and one of the things she talks about is learning how to be patient in your pasture, using David from the Bible as an example. He was just a young shepherd, tending sheep, and God sent Samuel directly to him to anoint him as king when he was only ten years old. But that didn’t mean it was time for David to take the throne immediately. God kept him in the pasture a little while longer, and while David was there, he learned how to truly, deeply love God and recognize His voice – two things that were absolutely vital for him to know to serve as king later on. Patience is not only a virtue; it is a skill, and one that can be learned. There is a purpose for every pause. As Wendy so beautifully put it, “The wait is more about experiencing God than enduring the delay.”

To my friends in a season of waiting and decision-making – I hope this encourages you. ♥