ringing in 30!

Last weekend, my darling husband and sweet, sweet sister-in-law and brother threw me the most amazing 30th birthday party! I am one lucky lady. They’ve spent the past couple months talking and planning and planning some more for this special bday bash, and I couldn’t be more thankful. It was evident all the thought and preparation and creativity that they put into the party, so I had to share. I truly couldn’t have planned a better celebration myself — it was perfect!

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Koozies, Mad Libs, a photo guest book documenting my 30 years, and fun little pony pens! Why ponies? I’d been asking for some details about the party for weeks, but of course they would give no information. Craig finally told me that there would be ponies at the party, and it quickly became a running joke. I’m glad they followed through. ūüôā
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How cute are those goggles? PS — Publix makes a delicious cookie cake. Watch out, Great American Cookie Co.¬†
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Coco’s sweet face even made an appearance at the party!¬†
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I am obsessed with these giant balloons and can’t wait to use them for whatever party I host next. Although I hear it’s not easy to transport them once blown up…¬†
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I am so glad we got this photo of most of the girls. I love my friends like family, and all of these girls are so special to me!
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Best hosts and hostess, and also best family. Couldn’t ask for anything more with these three.
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Love these gold balloons, too.
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It really was the best night and the best way to ring in 30 (a tad early). ¬†They even had my favorite pizza-making friends, S & J’s Pizza, cater the party. It was a huge hit, as always. I am so thankful for amazing friends to celebrate with, and even more thankful for the most thoughtful, generous husband, brother, and sister-in-law for making me feel so special! Now on to Cabo this wknd to continue the celebration with my family!

celebrating 60 years of mom!

My mom turned 60 on December 3rd… and what better way to celebrate than with a bunch of family and childhood friends? She is from Jacksonville, FL, and we still have a lot of family (and her friends) there, so it seemed like the obvious location for her party. The only problem is that my parents live about 4.5 hours away… so we had to come up with a plan to get her there on her own. Good thing my aunts and grandmother are good schemers! Mom was under the assumption that she was going to Jax last weekend for a little family welcome party for her aunt and uncle who are moving back to FL from CA. They aren’t moving until January, but she was none the wiser and agreed to come up to see everyone. She also thought my dad was going to be out of state for work all weekend. he he he

My aunt Lynn is a very talented watercolor painter, so she graciously offered to paint an image for the invitation. We went retro with the theme – the party was actually held at my mom’s childhood home, where my aunt and uncle now live. I scoured etsy.com¬†(which is essentially like an online handmade marketplace) and found some great party decorations, like this felt birthday banner. I love the festive colors and the fact that I can reuse it on my mantle for every birthday in coming years.

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I really wanted some cute decorative cookies as party favors, and I happened upon a website for¬†Ali’s Sweet Treats¬†in Miami, FL. I’d originally planned to do something decorative with icing… until I realized I could put mom’s face on them! I chose this photo of her as a child because it’s been hanging in our house for as long as I can remember, and it just looks so sweet — like the cookies. See what I did there?

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MyPublisher.com is my favorite way to make photo books. I found the website on the Young House Love blog last year, and I’ve been a photo book-making fool ever since. It’s such an easy site to use, and you have endless options on layouts and styles. All you do is upload your photos to the site, and then it can auto-populate them into the book — but I always choose to create my own layouts because it allows me to group photos together in a specific way. MyPublisher is ALWAYS having some sort of sale, so you can get great discounts on books whenever you make them… and if you don’t see one when you’re ready to buy your book, then just save it and wait a few days — one is bound to pop up.

Here’s the photo book I created for mom’s party as a guest book for everyone to sign. I borrowed photos from her albums (under the guise of looking for wedding slideshow photos) when we were home this fall and scanned them so I could do a “celebration of 60 years” book::

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In keeping with our retro theme, my aunt suggested serving “Not So Shirley Temples” — a grown-up twist on the classic — because this was their favorite drink during summers spent at the local country club.

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Mom’s favorite people::
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Mom, her brother, and her sister::

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I love that after all these years, mom is still so close with her childhood best friends::

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Cousins::

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The Birthday Girl::
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We wanted to have something fun for the guests to do, so we created a photo station. I borrowed this great red/white striped curtain from a neighbor (it just happened to perfectly match our theme), and bought some funny disguises and mini chalk boards on sticks on etsy. I bought some chalk markers in neon colors for guests to write messages. I also have a stash of costumes and props from my sorority days in college, so I threw in a fireman’s hat, feather boas, masks, etc. And my aunt had a TERRIFYINGLY realistic snake to add to the mix. It was Lauren’s favorite, by far. The photo area was so fun – I just wish we’d gotten more photos!

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This absolutely should have been our family Christmas card photo this year::

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Two of my favorite ladies — my mom and grandmother, Nana::

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Mom’s cake was from For the Love of Cake, a relatively new bakery in Riverside. My cousin Alli recommended it, and it was a bit hit! They perfectly re-created the red Mary Jane’s that my Aunt Lynn designed for the invitation. You can’t see it in the photo, but the cake was sparkly, too!

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Happy 60th Birthday, Mom!! We love you so much!

And here are some out-takes from setting up the photo station before the party…. enjoy!

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wonderful wedding weekend in the big easy:: part 2

Wedding wknd continued… Meg’s wedding day (10.27.12)

Aside from the temperature dropping about 30 degrees from Friday to Saturday, Meg and Jason’s wedding day was beautiful and perfect!¬†We spent the afternoon with Meg at a family friend’s house while she¬†had her makeup done and got photographed in her wedding¬†dress. It’s always sort of magical to see a bride¬†in her wedding¬†dress for the first time, and this was no exception.¬†I think most of us are more used to seeing Meggy in a t-shirt and Christmas light boxers than all dolled up,¬†but I had no doubt she would look absolutely stunning, and she did! (And Jason looked quite¬†dapper in hix tux and bow tie, too!)

One of my favorite things about New Orleans is the beautiful homes and giant tree-lined streets (the house where Meg got ready was on this street).
Beautiful cookies made for for the big day::

 

Bridal party bouquets::

Bridesmaids and the mothers of the bride and groom::

Meg and her Sacred Heart girls::

The Reception at Latrobe’s (which was an old bank back in the day) in the Quarter::

Cake pulls! This is a tradition I’ve only seen in New Orleans. We all pulled a ribbon sticking out of the cake and received a charm with a special meaning. Mine was a crescent moon…. it meant something about luck and possibility, I think. Should have gone to play the lottery that night!


Mr. and Mrs. LaBumbard!!

Second line — another favorite New Orleans wedding tradition::

Next up for the happy couple — 2 weeks in Bali!! Wishing you a safe, amazing honeymoon and a lifetime of love!

wonderful wedding weekend in the big easy:: part 1

Last weekend we traveled to the great city of New Orleans to celebrate my dear friend Meg and her love Jason at their wedding. As I probably mentioned in the post about Meg’s bachelorette trip, she was one of the very first friends I made at UGA, and we have made so many memories together. I had the pleasure of meeting Jason right after college when we visited Meg in Colorado Springs, where she’d taken a job. Jason worked with Meg, but lived in Boulder, so we convinced her that we should go up for the night to visit this guy she told us about… and the rest is history!

Meg is from New Orleans and we visited her hometown several times throughout college. It may sometimes get a bad rap, but I love it for the culture and beautiful architecture and great food and lively music. We stayed at the Bienville House Hotel in the French Quarter for the weekend, and we were able to walk almost everywhere we needed to go. The Bienville is a historic boutique hotel with one of the tiniest elevators I’ve ever been in, but it also has surprisingly large rooms. We had a view of the fire station across the street, so I felt quite safe. ūüôā

Craig, our friend Karen, and I arrived Thursday afternoon and spent the evening wandering the streets of the Quarter, sampling the obligatory frozen daiquiris, and eating Mexican food with a funny little dancing waiter until we were able to meet up with a couple other college friends who live there.

Outside of the Bienville House::




The Bienville House Hotel::


Morning walk past Jackson Square::


Fried, sugary goodness and creamy hot chocolate at Cafe du Monde::


Meg’s Bridesmaids Luncheon at Antoine’s Restaurant¬†— open since 1840::¬†


The Rex Room — one of the most gorgeous rooms I’ve ever been in! The walls are lined with photos and memorabilia from the Rex crew, which I believe is the largest Mardi Gras crew. How perfect is this for a girly luncheon?

The bride and her Tri Delta ladies::


Meg and all of her bridesmaids::

Meg and her beautiful mom and sisters::

Rehearsal at the Academy of the Sacred Heart::

Rehearsal Dinner/Cocktail Party venue in the Quarter. The lighting in the courtyard was romantic, and the house itself was so beautiful. It was the perfect venue for all of Meg and Jason’s wedding party, family, and out-of-town guests to gather and celebrate before their big day!

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The couple of honor::

To be continued!

celebrating 30 years of craig

Happy belated birthday to my favorite person and best friend! The past couple weeks have been busy busy busy with traveling to both Nashville and New Orleans, so this is a tad late…. but who doesn’t like their birthday to last all month?

Craig’s 30th birthday fell on Saturday, 10.20.12 — the day of the Auburn/Vandy football game in none other than Nashville, Craig’s hometown and one of his favorite places. It worked out perfectly for us to plan a weekend trip there with our friends, and surprisingly, most of them who came were UGA fans. Thanks, guys!

We got in some quality family celebrations for both Craig’s 30th and Cassie’s 13th birthdays before the weekend got started… they involved lots of delicious food and chocolate pies. We visited with his grandparents, got to see his cousin Torrie and her husband Chris, and also got to meet 2 new babies! It was so fun finally getting to see Craig’s long-time friend Pricey’s son Asa and Craig’s new baby cousin Bree.



The rest of the weekend consisted of a lot of honkey-tonks downtown, a freezing trip to the Vandy stadium for the Auburn game, and a fun downtown “living room” at Bailey’s, where we watched UGA pull out a win. We ended the trip with a quick breakfast at Puckett’s Grocery (had to) with Lauren and Drew. I love that place — so not healthy, but pretty good Southern food… and lots of high-priced groceries that I doubt anyone buys, but they’re fun to look at.









I always love going back to Nashville. Lots of family, friends, good food, and entertainment. I’ve still never spotted a country star, but I haven’t gotten my hopes up yet… Anyway, thank you to everyone who helped us celebrate Craig’s 30th birthday! It meant the world to both him and me to have so many important people there with us, and we had the best time! I think 30 is going to be an amazing year for my favorite guy!

a festive labor day weekend

Our Labor Day weekend was full of food, friends, and football. How surprising!

We spent time at several yummy eating establishments around the city — and one of our favorites was Roy’s Cheesesteaks, which is right down the street from our house. My friend Kristina’s husband is from Philly and gave the thumbs up on these guys, who are legit cheesesteak-makers — they apparently fly their bread in from Philly to make them extra authentic! You also might see them around Atlanta with their food truck, Champion Cheesesteaks. Definitely give them a try!

Friday night, I was invited to JCT Kitchen & Bar for a little celerbation of our friend Courtney, who just got engaged in Mexico the weekend before.¬†I’m¬†beyond¬†excited for¬†Courtney and Joey – they’re just so cute and in love! (He’d¬†probably die if he read this, but it’s¬†true.)

Saturday, we kicked off football season with the Auburn / Clemson game at the GA Dome. It was a LOOONG, HOT day, but it was fun to visit with our Auburn friends (and a few of us wives/girlfriends who were nice enough to don orange and navy for the day).


Sunday was filled with more eating…. brunch at Kaleidoscope (featured in my post¬†Wednesday) and dinner at Orient Express. I¬†share a deep love of hibachi and fried rice with our friend Renee, so we often drag¬†Craig and Brian (her husband) there¬†for dinner dates. ¬†No photos¬†taken, but I’m sure you can imagine.

Since we were filled to the brim after eating all around town the previous two days, we took the boat up to¬†Lake Lanier¬†to celebrate our Monday off. Andrew was our captain for the day. It was surprisingly¬†not crowded for a holiday weekend — I guess we can thank the¬†cloudy day and threat of storms for that.¬†Good news for us — no rain all day!

restaurant review:: kaleidoscope

Over Labor Day weekend, we had brunch with a large group of friends at Kaleidoscope¬†Bistro & Pub in the Brookhaven neighborhood of Atlanta. I’ve heard of Kaleidoscope for months and have really been wanting to try it, so I’m glad we had an excuse to be on that side of town!

Warning:: they don’t open until 12pm on Sundays (wish we’d realized that before driving all the way over there at 11:30am), and they can’t serve very important brunch staples like mimosas and bloody marys until 12:30pm, due to county-wide restrictions.

The popular dishes among the group were:
Grilled Cheese Fried Egg BLT (I got my eggs scrambled)
3 Little Pigs Biscuit Sandwich (yep — 3 kinds of piggy on one sandwich)
Crabcake Benedict
Kaleidoscope Burger (with pimiento cheese, chow chow, and pickles)

I loved the¬†grilled cheese BLT — it was on a toasted croissant (my favorite way to have a sandwich) and came with the most amazing cheese grits. Craig got the burger and really liked it, although I don’t think the single patty was very big. We¬†were little piggies and¬†shared an order of the Baked Bacon Mac n Cheeseyum yum! It’s hard to go wrong with you’re combining cheese and bacon with… well, almost anything. Their mimosas were also delish and quite generous.


Everyone raved over their food, and the restaurant is huge (with an outdoor patio as well). I’m adding Kaleidoscope to my list of go-to places for brunch… I also want to check them out for dinner now, too.

thanks….

…. for all of the birthday love!

There’s not too much to say since I posted so many photos elsewhere, but I just wanted to say thank you to my amazing family, friends, and husband for helping me celebrate the beginning of my last year of my 20s. Where did the time go? How are all of our friends already turning 29 and 30? This has been a pretty awesome year, though,¬†filled with lots of trips (to Chicago, Nashville, St. Augustine, Lake Tahoe, Costa Rica, San Francisco, NYC, and VA Beach — phew! how was there time for all of that?)… we got to witness my¬†little brother proposing to his amazing girlfriend… several other friends have gotten engaged, married, and are having their first babies… I had my 2-year anniversary with Stella & Dot and my 6-year anniversary with the Center for Puppetry Arts this summer…. there’s just been so much to celebrate and be thankful for! And I look forward to this¬†year being even better — mostly because I’m going to be gaining a sister when Andrew and Lauren get married next May!!


Some favorite photos from the bday celebration week…

Dinner at one of my favorite restaurants, The Iberian Pig, in Decatur::

Whoopie Pies brought in by my coworker, Hilary::


Peanut butter & Chocolate — my fave combo::


Annual Triple Birthday Celebration — Danielle, Big Mac (Adam), and me::


Fried goodness — mini corn dogs and fried pimiento cheese balls::


29 until further notice… we’re all going to adopt this idea::


Andrew & Lauren::


Some of my favorite girls::


And some favorite friends from college::


Everyone needs a cookie cake::

a beachelorette weekend in VA Beach

I spent last weekend celebrating one of my dear college friends, Meg, and her upcoming wedding. I met Meg on Bid Day for our sorority, Tri Delta, and we became fast friends. I didn’t know anyone going to UGA other than my older cousin Stuart, so it was really comforting to make those first few friends right away. Meg is from New Orleans and after moving around the country for work, she’s been in Washington, DC for several years with her fiance, Jason.

To celebrate Meg’s last big outing as a single girl, she invited all of her bridesmaids¬†on a “beachelorette” weekend in VA Beach.¬†Since I grew up in FL, we didn’t really go on vacations to beaches like VA Beach, Panama City and¬†Destin… so the touristy/crowded factor of this beach was shocking! I¬†have never seen so many…. interesting people on a beach in my life. But it made for¬†GREAT people watching!

A couple of us arrived several hours before anyone else on Friday, so we entertained ourselves with lunch and mimosas, wandering the strip of Atlantic Ave, buying salt water taffy, and people watching on the boardwalk by the beach. 

The “beachelorette” doing a victory dance — finally at the beach after a way-too-long car ride from DC, thanks to so much weekend traffic::

Our hotel was right on the beach and we had this view from our balconies::

Champagne toast to kick off the weekend! We ran out of glasses, so I used Meg’s boot glass, which I brought back for her when I studied abroad in Austria… in 2004. I’m impressed that the boot has made it safely around the country with all of Meg’s moves.

I’m not sure what VA Beach likes so much about Poseidon, but there is a GIANT statue of him outside the hotel on the beach, and we got a teeny version of him made out of chocolate in our rooms.


Salty Chihuahuas::

This weekend was the first time I’ve seen the bride-to-be in 2 years::

Meg with all of her bridesmaids (minus 1) at Catch 31¬†for dinner¬†— such yummy seafood, a funny waiter with a big dream, and the largest lazy susan I’ve ever seen::


Beach day — we loved the giant, cushy chairs::

Sarah’s homemade champagne cupcakes::

Meggy and her sweet sisters, Kay and Sarah, at Fire & Vine for dinner on our last night::


Luna Sea, complete with volleyball and bocce ball courts::


Farewell send-off with Poseidon, in honor of our Tri Delta roots::

I love a good excuse to get together with some of my favorite girls and to make some new friends, too. It’s hard to believe that the 4 of us (in the pic above) have been friends for over a decade now. And even though some have moved back home or to another state and we may not see each other as often as we like (but 2 years is FAR too long!!), we always manage to pick up just where we left off. I wouldn’t have missed this weekend for the world, and I can not wait to spend the weekend in New Orleans celebrating Meg and Jason in October!