My Surprise Birthday Celebration

I turned 31 two weeks ago and my husband threw me a surprise party! I’ve never had a surprise party before and I couldn’t believe it, he actually got me! This birthday was completely different from my 30th (check out my post Ain’t No Party Like a Disco Party! to read about that wild party). To be honest, this year I wasn’t really in the celebrating mood since I was 20 weeks pregnant and not feeling like myself. Also, our summer has already been so busy and then still everything going on with Covid. Luckily my husband knows me well and knows that typically I am ALLLLL about birthdays, so he went above and beyond (and so did my mom and friends!) to make me feel loved and special.

We started the day being tourists in Seattle walking along the pier. We saw a caricature artist on the side walk doing drawings and decided to go for it. I have always wanted to do this! Welp, in the picture I look like a crazy person while my husband looks like Mr. Incredible. 😂

Our first stop along the pier was the The Crab Pot which you should definitely check out if you are ever visiting Seattle. Crab, fish, salmon, muscles, clams..seafood galore. We went with the Crab Louie and Fish and Chips and split everything (One of the best things about having a partner is sharing food at restaurants so you always get to try two meals instead of one, agree?). We also got a side of melted butter to dip some of the crab from the salad in. Mmmmm, I’m getting hungry just thinking about this meal.

Our next stop was going to MoPOP, Museum of Pop and Culture (which I still call the EMP). This is a unique place if you have never been. My husband knows I love everything Disney and they were having a special Heroes & Villains exhibit showing many costumes from Disney movies and TV shows, so he decided to get tickets. The last time we were at the EMP was for a NYE party in 2017. Again, this year was a little different from the last time we were there 🙃. It was fun reminiscing on those memories (the photo below of me in the vampire coffin was from the NYE party in 2017!). After walking through all the exhibits at the EMP, we made our way to another classic tourist spot, the International Fountain and lounged around in the sunshine.

At this point I was feeling pretty tired and ready to head home, but what I didn’t know was that my husband was trying to kill time before heading back for the surprise party. He suggested we go to UVillage to get some maternity clothes. Shopping? Sure! Also, the past couple of weeks I had been feeling a little down about my clothes and what was/wasn’t fitting me (was using hair ties to keep my shorts buttoned) so I was excited to find some pieces that actually fit my changing body.

After shopping we made our way back to our house and at this point my husband was acting a little strange but I still didn’t know about the party. (Some strange things: Our Ring Doorbell was covered in tape so I couldn’t see the camera, he told me I should wear one of my new dresses out of the store home, he asked me to look at some marble tile on his phone as we were driving so I wouldn’t see all the cars parked on our street). When we walked inside, I noticed some balloons and decorations on our deck when I looked through the window. I turned the corner into our back room and everyone yelled SURPRISE! I was actually shocked. So excited and so so happy to see my friends, my mom and my favorite pups there to celebrate.

After all my questions of “How did you you guys pull this off? Wait, you made this?! Aww you guys! Tommy how long have you been planning this?” everyone brought out the food and snacks. Watermelon, 7-layer bean dip that one of my friends makes and is always BOMB!, and my absolute favorite – fried chicken and jojos. Mmm also my friend brought a dozen cookies from Crumbl Cookies and they were absolutely incredible. (Get the pink one always and their menu changes each week to mix and match the rest. I’m seriously about to order these right now just to have around the house because they are so delicious).

This birthday was much different than the last but in the best way possible. It was a surprise party that I won’t ever forget and the perfect celebration for this time in my life right now. My husband, my mom and my friends outdid themselves and I felt SO much love. Very memorable and a very special day turning 31!

Gender Reveal Party

When my husband and I first found out we were pregnant, we immediately decided we would find out if we were having a boy or a girl. (There is absolutely no way the teacher/planner in me would be able to wait). And we love to have parties so we decided why not have a little gender reveal party!

At 14 weeks, we did the NIPT blood test which screened our baby for the most common defects, including Down Syndrome, trisomy 13, and trisomy 18. We added on the option to find out the sex and then had the results put in a sealed envelope which we got on May 23rd. That very night we gave the envelope to our friend Amber since it would be way too tempting to sneak a peak at the results. (We had our party on June 19th and waited 3 weeks after we received the results to accommodate our schedules). Waiting was hard but also fun because during that time we would go back and forth discussing if baby was a boy or girl and why.

We invited our immediate family and some of our close friends to keep things small and intimate. I made a Balloon Arch to use as a background and love how it turned out. I also got these Gender Reveal Buttons for friends and family to guess if they thought baby was a boy or girl. We had some charcuterie boards and snacks and did a pasta salad bar with a bunch of different cold pasta salads to eat. For dessert, funfetti cupcakes! And I had to somehow include our pup Edgar so I got him a Big Brother Bandana (totally unnecessary but I think was very cute).

For the actual reveal we used 10 Confetti Cannons which Amber ordered for us since she was the only person who knew the sex. Instead of releasing the cannons ourselves, we had our friends and family circle around us and count down while we watched under the balloon arch. This made for such a special and memorable moment. Honestly it was incredible watching the colors fly in the sky and a day we both won’t ever forget.

And we are having a baby boy!!! We had such an amazing time and this party made us even more excited for our little babe. Now to think of and decide on a name. Any suggestions? ☺️

Galentine’s Day

When I told my husband I wanted to have a little Galentine’s Day celebration, he had no idea what this was. “What is Galentine’s Day? You get together with your girlfriends, dress in black and vent about men?” I couldn’t help but laugh. I think he was thinking more of an Anti-Valentine’s Day celebration which isn’t what Galentine’s Day is at all. It’s about celebrating the girlfriends in your life, getting together and showing your love for each other.

Leslie Knope from Parks and Rec explains it best, “What’s Galentine’s Day? Oh, it’s only the best day of the year. Every February 13th, my ladyfriends and I leave our husbands and our boyfriends at home, and we just come and kick it, breakfast-style. Ladies celebrating ladies. It’s like Lilith Fair, minus the angst. Plus frittatas!”

And the best part about Galentine’s Day is you can make it whatever you want. Brunch + Mimosas, Wine Tasting, Movie Slumber Party, Pot Luck, Game Night. It’s a chance to recognize the impact that our friends have on our lives and celebrate!

We wore our PJ’s, drank some bubbly and wine, ate charcuterie and sweets, gave some toasts, played some games and just talked and hung out with each other. I also made pasta from a recipe I saw on TikTok (yes I caved and downloaded TikTok) and it was pretty tasty! You can find the Baked Feta Tomato Pasta recipe here.

Of course we can and should celebrate our gals anytime throughout the year. It’s just something about wearing your PJ’s while sipping on pink champagne with your besties that makes this holiday feel extra special. ❤️

Weekend Road Trip to…Montana!

A 10+ hour road trip from Washington to Montana and back in 3 1/2 days? That’s over 20 hours of driving. Normally I would try to extend a trip like this but since my husband and I only had a couple of days and had the urge to travel, we decided to go for it! Oh, and there was a special reason why we chose to road trip to Montana…our friends who live there were getting engaged!

We left Thursday and started the 10+ hour journey. Tommy made a little bed in the back of the car with an air mattress, pillow and blankets to trade off napping. Our first stop was Ellensburg for some lunch. We discover THE BEST little sandwich place. If you ever find yourself passing through Ellensburg, definitely stop at Daily Bread and Mercantile. We had the Very Veggie and the Mean Green Panini. So, so good.

We continued to drive until we reached St. Regis Travel Center where apparently they have the best huckleberry milkshakes. **One thing to note, Tommy started filling up the gas tank and then we went inside to grab a bite to eat. We were so excited to get back to the car and eat our tater tots that we forgot to put the gas nozzle back. So Tommy drove off and the entire gas thing flew off dangling from the car!! 😂 Luckily it was able to go back on and reattach but this was definitely a first for us.

The next day, we explored Helena where our friends Kevin and Mary live before setting off to Livingston, Montana where Kevin was going to propose! (Livingston is a former railroad town in southwestern Montana along the banks of the Yellowstone River. It has this old western charm and a small town vibe. They stayed at Livingston’s famous historical hotel called The Murry, which is the place to stay if you are visiting the area).

The day of the proposal we went to this little restaurant called Faye’s Cafe in an old school building called The Shane Center. I cannot recommend this gem of a place enough! Customers pick out 2-3 words from the menu to describe the meal you would like. Then the waitress takes the words back to Faye (the cook) and she will whip something up just for you! The words I chose were potato, veggie and cheesy and this is what I had. Poached eggs, cheesy hash browns, green beans with balsamic, pesto and hummus on naan bread and citrus orange corn bread. Incredible. So rich and so flavorful. I’m still dreaming of this breakfast.

Next we set off for our hike to Pine Creek Falls where our friend Kevin was planning on proposing! Around 2.5 miles, this hike was short and sweet with beautiful views all around us. (But be careful if you go in late October. We were slipping all over the place since it was very icy. A couple of close calls on my end but no major falls).

We got to the falls and it couldn’t have been more perfect. There was this little bridge where Tommy and I stood to take photos. Kevin proposed and Mary said YES (She also had no idea and was so surprised)! Then we popped some champagne and enjoyed the moment before making our way back. The most special and memorable hike with great friends.

Next was the second part of Kevin’s proposal plan, to go to Chico Hot Springs! This resort was established over 120 years ago in 1900 and is located in the heart of Paradise Valley. It definitely didn’t feel like our typical cold Halloween day in Seattle. We felt like we were on a mini tropical vacation with the warm hot spring water and pool side drinks. So much fun!

We ended the day by going out to dinner in Livingston to celebrate the newly engaged couple! (I really enjoyed taking photos of all the neon signs that lit up the streets).

Then on Sunday Tommy and I started our long journey home back to Washington. I was so grateful for that extra hour we got with daylight savings. And the bed in the back of our car really came in handy for naps. Not to mention the scenic drive was absolutely beautiful.

This was one epic Halloween weekend to celebrate our friends’ engagement and an amazing quick little road trip to Montana!

30th Birthday – Quarantine Style

It’s challenging to plan a birthday party in the middle of a pandemic, especially a 30th birthday. My husband Tommy turned 30 on April 10th and for his birthday we were planning on taking a two week road trip from Seattle to the Grand Canyon and back.

We were going to travel to Helena, MT to visit our friends, hike and then camp around there in this log cabin. From there the plan was to drive to Yellowstone, head to Salt Lake City, go to Antelope Canyon, travel to the Grand Canyon and end our trip in Portland. We wanted to rent a van from Escape Campervans (with a queen bed, kitchenette and everything you need for a great road trip) and we were planning on bringing our pup Edgar to make this a family adventure. Unfortunately we canceled since we’re in the middle of a corona crisis and had to come up with plan B for Tommy’s birthday.

I saw this Birthday Parade idea from a teacher I follow on Instagram who posted about celebrating her sons birthday. They had a parade of cars driving by, honking, yelling out the window, cheering, etc. So I thought, why not have a Surprise Drive by Birthday for my 30 year old hubs. This way he could still see all his favorite people while still maintaining social distancing. And WOW…it was amazing.

We started his birthday like any other person in quarantine would; by sleeping in late, lounging around the house, not getting dressed and staying in our pjs. We purchased the game Crash Bandicoot for xBox and played this for a good part of the day (I was obsessed with this game when I was younger, if you’ve never played I suggest getting it). Between racing on Crash Bandicoot for hours and getting up for parts of the day to be productive, I baked Tommy a birthday cake and we had Bloody Merrys (he still had no idea about the surprise planned for later).

Eventually I asked Tommy to shower and put on real clothes (remember we were lounging living the quarantine life) because I told him I wanted to take a picture of him opening his gift. For part of his gift I needed to have my laptop projected onto the TV and asked him to help me with this. At this point he was starting to wonder what was going on and said he was getting worried. He thought I was going to surprise him with a Zoom Birthday Meeting with all of his friends (something he specifically said he did not want).

I assured him we would not be having a Zoom meeting and instead played the video I made for him; 30 Reasons Why I Love You. By the end of the video we are both teary eyed and cracking up and I told him it’s time for his second surprise. Oh no, what. Oh no what are you planning, what are we doing; was what Tommy kept asking as I had him walk outside to the street.

I showed him the sign and balloons on my car and told him this was the surprise, to wait there so I could take his picture. At this point he’s starting to get suspicious, looks down the hill and sees the long row of cars about to drive up. He couldn’t believe it.

So many of Tommy’s closet friends and family members came out to celebrate him on his 30th! Cars were decorated with balloons + banners + streamers, bday signs were out, dogs + kids + babies in the backseats, sunroofs open, gifts passed through car windows (lots of delicious baked goods because ya know great quarantine hobby), lots of honking, lots of cheering. 14 cars total. It was awesome.

Among all the balloons and gifts was a bottle of Smirnoff Ice, so naturally Tommy got down on one knee and chugged it. After the parade a group of friends and family members parked on the street and the drive by parade turned into little block party (all while maintaining social distancing), with some champagne and cake to follow.

After everyone left, Tommy and I enjoyed the cake to ourselves since he blew out the candles and we didn’t want to spread germs to anyone. But dang! Three layer cake…it was good. Recipe from Half Baked Harvest. Highly recommend and I’m not usually a baker.

His final surprise was a Virtual Birthday Card from a website called Group Greeting (Thanks Brann for recommending this site!). You can choose from a variety of cards, send the link to friends + family to have them sign and then it gets emailed out whenever you schedule. You can also turn it into a PDF to print out and deliver in person. (Some offices have been using these to stay connected. Also there are more than just birthday cards on this site, could be used in lots of different ways).

Perhaps a Birthday Parade will become the new normal for a while. It might sound like a silly idea, but the impact of seeing the people who mean the most to you on your birthday is just incredible (even if it is just for a quick drive by moment). I definitely recommend planning or participating in this if you know of an upcoming birthday and are looking for a creative way to celebrate. Great for all ages, something to look forward to, gets the whole family out of the house, very unique, lots of laughter, lots of fun and so very memorable.

Dogwood Play Park

My husband Tommy and I absolutely love dogs. Some might say we are a little obsessed with our crazy pup Edgar. He is a Miniature Australian Shepherd and requires lots of exercise and lots of love. But living in the Pacific Northwest means constant unpredictable weather, making it challenging to take Edgar out for walks (because I am not a fan of walking outside in the wet and cold).

Luckily we discovered this amazing indoor/outdoor off-leash dog park called Dogwood Play Park (just north of Seattle), for days when the weather isn’t so great or when we want to go out without leaving Edgar home alone. Oh and the best part, there is a bar there! So not only is this an amazing place to let your pup run around and play, but also great to go and socialize with friends.

They have a large selection of beer, a small dog area, a large dog area, tennis balls to throw, a dog bakery for treats, and plenty of space (indoor and outdoor) for your pup to play and run around. They also have a separate space that is available to rent for events.

Since many of my friends are also obsessed with their dogs, one friend and I decided to throw a joint 1st birthday party for Edgar and his best friend Toby. We rented the space at Dogwood so everyone could get in for free. We went all out. Printed invitations, birthday cakes from The Seattle Barkery, bow tie souvenirs, treat bags to go, small bites and snacks for the humans and we even made a photo-booth area. Below is a video from the party.

The 1st birthday party event was very ridiculous but also so much fun. Since then Edgar and I have been back several times.

So if you are looking for a space to escape the Seattle rain, let your dog run wild and enjoy a drink with friends, check out Dogwood Play Park. It costs $12 per dog to enter and they must have current vaccinations up to date. An excuse to get together with friends and play with a bunch of amazing pups…who wouldn’t love that?

Bridal Shower Dreams – Mercer Island, WA

Today I was reminiscing and looking through photos of my bridal shower in June 2019 and thought I would share! My in-laws hosted the shower (my husbands cousins) at their moms home in Mercer Island and it was the perfect day.

I had my makeup done in the morning (for the first time ever besides one time when I got fake eye lashes glued on for Halloween). The makeup artist was the same artist who did my makeup for my wedding so this was my wedding day trial. I loved how it came out! (Future brides – I recommend scheduling your makeup trial the same day as you will be out and about. This way you can see how well it lasts and can show your friends/family.) Joey Van Pelt was amazing and made me feel so beautiful. Check her out if you are looking for a talented makeup artist in the Washington area.

My best friend picked me up and we drove to my in-laws house. Once we walked through the door, I was immediately greeted by my closest girlfriends and beautiful women in my family.

We drank champagne from the “Bubbly Bar” (because who doesn’t love a Bubbly Bar), mingled on the patio in the sunshine, took some photos (Dress is from Lulus-find it here) and played some games before sitting down to eat together.

My bridesmaids but together 3 games. 1. How Old Was The Bride? The girls guessed how old I was in each photo (even my mom had a hard time remember my age on some pictures) How Old Card Template found here. 2. Advice for the bride. We took a polaroid together and then they put all the photos and advice cards in a scrapbook. I also put all my cards in the book because I love saving cards and looking back on them. You can find the Advice Card Template here. 3. Does the Bride really know the Groom? I always get nervous being the center of attention but this was a fun game to play. And for the record I know Tommy pretty well 🙂 Bride knows the Groom Template found here.

We ate a delicious lunch and enjoyed each others company (my cousin in-law gave a little toast that made me tear up a bit). It felt so special to have had many of the important women in my life all eating together in one place.

Later I opened gifts in front of everyone in the living room. (Always nerve-racking being the center of attention but I felt at ease with my best friends there). I just remember feeling so grateful and so very loved.

We had dessert that my talented sister-in-law and mother-in-law made before saying goodbye to everyone. (I don’t have the exact dessert recipes but here is one that looks similar if you are interested). Then after the shower some of my girlfriends and I went out to eat at one of my favorite restaurants in Edmonds, 190 Sunset for dinner and martinis.

To say I felt the love this day is an understatement. I will always cherish these memories and I feel so very lucky to have many beautiful women in my life who I can call my best friends and family.

Big Lake, WA – Quick Cabin Weekend Getaway

When thinking about a weekend getaway in Washington, Big Lake is often missed or forgotten, but it’s one of my favorite places to go! Only about an hour north of Seattle, it’s the perfect place to travel to if you are looking for a quick vacation where you want to get away from it all without the long drive.

I have been there several times over the years (my friend has an enormous family cabin on the lake where a bunch of us always stay). You can find many affordable houses/cabins to rent on Vrbo or AirBnB and I suggest finding one right on the lake.

We typically spend a weekend at Big Lake in the summer, but just went there for President’s day weekend and had the best time (this was a last minute trip but it’s alway so quick and so easy to get to). We started our weekend by stopping in Mt. Vernon at a cocktail bar called Valley Shine Distillery for some drinks before heading to the house (definitely recommend checking this place out if you like delicious cocktails). There really aren’t any restaurants or shops close or within walking distance to the lake, but you can find shops downtown Mt. Vernon which is only about a 10 min drive from Big Lake.

We spent our weekend with 15 friends and 7 dogs….(yes, 7 pups!). We had a blast playing games all night, making delicious food (yummy taco bar), playing hide n go seek in the dark (the best house for this with so many sneaky spots to hide), playing with the pups and spending time with each other. We also had a bomb brunch at C-Square (great food but skip the bloody marrys – too spicy) before making the short drive back home.

Big Lake is a fun, affordable place to travel to for a quick weekend getaway with a big group of friends or family. And it is even better in the summer! There are hiking trails nearby and places to explore. On July 3rd there is a beautiful firework show right over the lake. It feels like the fireworks are going off right above you and you can’t beat the views. People bring out the grills to BBQ, boats, paddle boards, kayaks and jet skis for some summer fun. If you have never heard of Big Lake or have yet to go, definitely check it out this summer!