celebrating 90

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My grandmother Nana¬†turned 90 this month — what an incredible milestone in life! We packed up what seemed like everything in our house to travel with the bebe down to Jacksonville, FL last weekend for her big celebration.

To be honest, I’d been stressed about this trip for weeks. Taking a barely one month old baby on a 5 hour drive out of state did not seem like the most fun idea, especially considering she’d never spent more than an hour in her car seat. But we were pleasantly surprised at how well she traveled! She slept almost the entire trip down, and she was pretty easy the entire weekend. Maybe everyone was right by saying this really is a good age to travel with. ūüôā My cousin Alli and her family were gracious enough to host us at their home so we didn’t have to be cooped up in a hotel room with a newborn, and it made our trip so much better. She even had mints on our pillows… Hotel Vogt is the 5 star!

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We had the best time visiting with all of my mom’s family, and I’m so happy that all of my aunts, uncles, cousins, and other extended relatives got to meet Leighton so early in her little life. Most importantly, our grandmother Nana got to hold and love on her newest great granddaughter! It was a sweet, lovely sight.

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Aside from visiting with family, we spent some time down in Avondale, which is the cutest area of boutiques and restaurants. We had a fantastic brunch at Brick Restaurant, and mama got a long-awaited mimosa! After helping with some birthday party setup, we headed back to Avondale for some football watching, beer drinking, and hot pretzel eating at the nicest Mellow Mushroom I’ve ever seen.

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Saturday night, we celebrated Nana’s 90th birthday with a big party at my aunt and uncle’s home, which used to belong to my grandparents. I love going back to this house because it brings back so many great childhood memories – and it’s a fantastic place for parties! Nana was surrounded by not only all of her family, but many of her lifelong friends, which was really neat to see. We dined on Cuban food outside under strings of lights and colorful lanterns, watched college football (not happy about that Georgia game), and watched a sweet slideshow documenting Nana’s wonderful life. It was a perfect celebration for our favorite Nana!

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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!

andrew + lauren tied the knot! part 2:: welcome reception

In true Andrew and Lauren fashion, they wanted everyone coming into town for the wedding to be included in the festivities and fun on Friday night, so they planned a welcome reception at one of the BEST spots in Athens — the Georgia Theatre rooftop. For those not familiar with the venue, GA Theatre opened as a concert hall in 1977 and has been home to performances by the B-52s, REM, Sting and The Police, and so many other famous acts. In 2009, a fire tragically gutted the famous and beloved building that so many of us have countless memories of during our college years. It reopened in 2011 and while I haven’t seen the inside of the theatre, I think the rooftop makes the venue infinitely better than it once had been. Views of downtown Athens, a great breeze, and a fun bar made for the perfect welcome reception!

Lauren and Andrew had their name in lights!
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I had the honor of creating a slideshow to share with everyone at the party. Andrew and Lauren didn’t want to see it in advance, so it was fun to see their reactions. I’m such a sucker for wedding slideshows.¬†
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My mom’s family, minus a few who couldn’t be there. I’m so glad we got to spend quality time with our Florida family last weekend!
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Lauren’s brother, sister-in-law, and one of many bffs
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Almost Mr. and Mrs.!
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BBQ’n for Memorial Day

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I don’t know about you, but I love any excuse to have friends over to our house ¬†— for holidays, birthdays, football game watching, or a weekend BBQ. We usually do burgers and dogs or a rack of ribs for summer cookouts. I’m not sure what will be on the grill yet for Memorial Day, but I know it will be delicious!¬†Here are my picks for some great BBQ essentials.

 

1. The perfect festive tray for hot dogs!

2. A drink dispenser for lemonade or sangria.

3. Striped paper straws are always needed for a party.

4.¬†Wooden Ice Cream Spoons — who wouldn’t love ice cream sundaes for dessert?

5. How appropriate is this cheese board?

 

And some yummy recipes….

— Refreshing¬†Sangria Bianca¬†for the ladies.

— Festive¬†fruit skewers¬†for kids or adults.

— I’m a sucker for a good burger. Here’s a slight twist on the traditional recipe.

— A healthier alternative to burgers and brats.

— A homemade ice cream sundae bar to finish off the festivities.

showering the soon-to-be bride + groom!

Last weekend, Craig and I hosted a Stock the Bar Shower for my brother and his fiance in honor of their upcoming wedding. We love entertaining at our house, and I love planning things, so we had a lot of fun preparing for our shindig. With tons of ideas pinned on a secret board on Pinterest, I got to work on designing the invitation (with some input from my co-host, of course). The orange bars are just covering our address and contact info for use here.

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Cheers to the couple of honor! Only 2.5 months till the big day!
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Photo banner filled with photos of Lauren and Andrew as kids made for great guest entertainment::
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Wine bottle guest book::
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Red Velvet and Coca-Cola cupcakes from West Egg (some of Andrew’s favorites) with toppers that I made::
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Our shower gift – a basket full of wine bottles with individual tags for some of their first big events as a married couple::
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Wine bottle centerpieces that we made in keeping with the Stock the Bar theme (tutorial was posted on Sun, 3/3)::
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We hired our friends Jonathan and Sarah of S & J’s Wood Fired Pizza to cater the shower,
complete with a wood burning oven in the driveway! They served cheese garlic bread, caesar salads, and almost any kind of pizza you could imagine. Some of the favorites were the meatza and the apple/bacon/feta pizza. Yum!
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Long-time friends from Franklin, TN::
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Photo area (made with colored streamers strung on fishing line to create a backdrop) with props and mini chalkboards::
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Showered with gifts::
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Redneck wine glasses, of course::
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Happy Shower to two of our most favorite people! We¬†can’t wait to officially welcome you to the family, Lauren!

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ringing in 2013

2013 is here, and with the help of lots of our friends, we rang it in in style. Craig’s bar was finished JUST in time for a “grand re-opening” after
our dinner party. The basement and patio remodel gave us so much more space to entertain, and we love it! Here are a few shots from our
New Year’s Eve party::

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Sangria in my fun new mason jar drink dispenser::
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Rotel cups with the much-needed addition of ground beef::
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Dinner for 10::
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Smoked pork butt, hash brown casserole, the best salad ever, corn casserole, popovers, and prosciutto-wrapped asparagus::
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Time for s’mores over the fire pit::
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The hanging pallet bed can successfully hold 5 girls::
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Happy to start 2013 off with the guy::
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so many holiday parties…. what to wear?

It’s Holiday Party time! That means lots of eating, drinking, dancing, singing, and cute party outfits! If you’re in need of some style suggestions, then read away. The jewelry is from Stella & Dot (of course).

I love a good Holiday Cocktail Party during this time of year… and if I’m not going the Tacky Sweater route, I’d pick something fun and fancy like a bright red or green dress. A statement necklace like the Isadora Pearl Bib looks great over a bold color. I’ve paired it with the classic Glint Flower CZ Earrings, Laurel Rings (set of 3), and Ainsley Bracelet (it’s stretchy!).

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Partying with your boss and coworkers this holiday season? Keep it classy with an elegant look — a pencil skirt or simple dress looks great with these silver, sparkly delicates. The Andrea Pendant and Joyce Chandelier Earrings are beautiful in person – so very delicate with the look of fine jewelry. I’d stack a couple of the Radiance Coil Bracelets and finish the look with a great everyday piece, the Stackable Deco Rings.

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Have a girls night cookie / ornament / gift swap coming up? For gatherings like this, I like to keep it casual while still being festive. I’d choose some bright skinny jeans (like these red ones from Old Navy, which I personally own in 3 colors) and a comfy sweater or long sleeved top. A long pendant necklace is casual but stylish — my current favorite is the Wesley Pendant from our Holiday Collection. I love the mixed metals, and it pairs really well with the Luna Wrap (which also doubles as a necklace!). Finishing up the look are the Renegade Bracelet, Secret Garden Ring, and Signature Hoops in Gold.

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So many of us ring in the New Year with the classic LBD… and now you can add some edge with the Lillith Fringe Necklace. It completely transforms the simple LBD and turns you into a rock star for the night. Finish the look with the Vintage Studs, big Secret Garden Cuff, and Stackable Gem Ring.
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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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how to host a clothing swap party!

I was talking with¬†my brother’s fiance and her friend¬†a few weeks ago about how we have too many clothes that we feel like we never wear. I know, tough problem to have…. but we’re all guilty of buying things we think we love, and then wearing them once – or never. So we decided we should try a clothing swap party with our girlfriends to get rid of some of our old stuff and exchange for some new. Most of our clothes are still in great condition, so we thought it would be fun to trade items around with our friends. Haven’t been to or heard of such a party? Here’s a little how-to so you can do it with your friends!

What to do:
1. Decide who to invite. It sounds odd, but take size into consideration. You don’t want to invite a bunch of girls who are around the same size and then one person who is much different — that just wouldn’t be fair or fun for her.

2. Choose a date and send out an email or evite. I’d recommend giving at least 1-2 weeks notice so that everyone has time to go through their closets and pull pieces.

3. Be sure to include instructions on what you want them to do. Here are some guidelines:
* Please bring a minimum of 5 items, but you’re welcome to bring lots more! The more we have to swap, the more everyone will go home with!
* Be sure your items are clean and in good condition. (i.e. — don’t bring something super wrinkly that you had in the bottom of your closet.)
* You’ll get your name on a slip of paper for every item you bring, and that’s how many items you can swap for.
* Bring a shopping bag to take your goodies home in!

What to bring?? Everything! Clothes, jackets, shoes (new), belts, scarves, hats, bags, jewelry, bathing suit cover-ups….. and don’t forget about the winter or summer clothes that might be packed away!

4. If you want, ask guests to bring something to snack on or a bottle of wine to contribute for the party.

5. The day of the party, make sure to have some bedrooms clear and/or have a full-length mirror available for dressing room areas. For hanging clothes, we just hung them on curtain rods and the sides of furniture. You could also use hanging racks, tables, couches, etc. to set everything out on. We tried to separate items by type to make it easier to sort through, but that was a little difficult without lots of hanging racks.

6. When each person arrives, take a count of the number of items they’ve brought. Write their name on a slip of paper for each item brought — that’s how many pieces they’ll be able to swap for. (If you don’t want to be that formal and strict on the rules, you could also just let everyone shop like they’re in a store and pick whatever they’d like. This is what we ended up doing — we only had 5 people, so it worked well.)

7. At the end of the night, everyone can bag up their new items to take home. If the rest is to be donated to charity, then the host or a guest can bag up the leftovers to drop off at a donation center.

And that’s how it works! It was such a fun night. What girl doesn’t love shopping for free?? I think we all really enjoyed seeing our friends trying on pieces that we were tired of wearing, but still liked and didn’t want to just throw away or donate. I ended up with 2 great dresses and 4 silky tank tops that I can’t wait to wear! And I look forward to seeing some of my old clothes make their debuts on someone¬†else — it’s¬†nice to know they’re going to a good home!



And¬†just for fun — the only boy allowed at the party::

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::