Penny’s Birthday Weekend: Part 2 (Her Party!)

All right, and we’re back! Last we left off, my family and I all had a fun, busy day together for Penny’s birthday last Thursday, and then Friday was spent deep in prep mode for her big birthday bash. Now, most of you are aware, I think, that my job with Yelp involves not a small amount of event planning and hosting. So it should come as no surprise to you that I wanted to put in a, er, bit of effort for Penny’s big bash.

Which, fine, I fully admit was really more of a party for Sean and myself than for her, as she the memory of an canary. And okay, okay, the party wasn’t even really that much for Sean, since he would have probably been happy if we’d hung out in our pajamas, given her a cupcake, and watched Mother Good Club with her for an hour to celebrate. BUT I DIGRESS.

The theme for Penny’s birthday was “Donut Grow Up,” which was incredibly fun and made it entirely too easy for me to go overboard with. Donuts are the new cupcakes, what can I say!?

I tried to infuse some special Penny-related touches wherever I could, including having photos from her donut smash photoshoot on each table, a photo mosaic of all the Outfit of the Day photos I’ve taken of her over the past year as her guestbook, and a fun little game that honored our “Lucky Penny” where guests could take a guess at how many pennies were stuffed inside a big ol’ mason jar (the winner won a donut-shaped pool float).

 

The party was from 3 – 5, so we didn’t serve up a full meal, but had a big spread of various snacks: veggies, popcorn, Pirate’s Booty, watermelon, chicken nuggets (dino shaped ones, natch), spanakopita, cheese & crackers, chips & salsa, and, of course, a kazillion donuts!

I got these cute milk bottles from Oriental Trading Company and dipped the tops in frosting and sprinkles — this was one party prep task that was actually really fun, and that my 5-year-old niece Mia was able to help with, too. 🙂

I ordered savory Everything Bagel donuts from a local company, B Doughnut, and they were absolutely one of the biggest hits of the party! They come stuffed with lox, chives, or bacon, and are amaaaazing.

 

For the sweet donuts & donut holes I just hit up our local Dunkin Donuts, and to complete our offering of “hole foods” (get it?), I also set out some plain Cheerios as well as Kellogg’s Donut Shoppe cereals.

Penny’s smash cake was done by the same lovely bakery that made Sean’s and my wedding cake, Simply Desserts! It was adorable and really tasty — as you’ll see further down in this post, Penny was an extremely dainty cake eater, haha, so I definitely still got to enjoy a slice later.

And finally, I ordered cookies from this fantastic local cookie decorator, Tiny Tudor Cookies, who did the most INCREDIBLE job. She made cookies that said “Penny” and “Donut Grow Up” in a beautiful calligraphy, “1” cookies with icing and sprinkles at the top, donut cookies, and a totally amazing cake-shaped cookie that had a banner on top that said “One.” They were seriously SO beautiful, it was almost a shame to eat them. These were also the favors for guests to take home as they left the party (and luckily I still have several leftover sitting in their packaging for me to lovingly stare at every time I go into the kitchen.)

We held the party at the community center located near my house, so it wasn’t too terrible carting everything over for the party. One of my more brilliant ideas was bringing Penny’s Crawl Around Car and inflatable pool, the latter of which I turned into a small ball pit for the party.

 

It was the best thing EVER! There were a ton of babies and young kids in attendance — this party really highlighted how many mommy friends I have, for which I’m insanely grateful! Between local Facebook groups, the Peanut app (it’s like Tinder for moms!), and just the fact that I’m 30 and am squarely in this season of life, Penny has so many little friends out there. The kiddos all pretty much hung out near the ball pit area, playing and socializing for most of the party. It made me so happy!

 

 

Another fun element was the digital photobooth that my brother was able to set up for us.

And, of course, the main event for the party was our little Princess Penny digging into her cake. Well, okay, she didn’t really dig in as much as kind of, er, delicately nibble. I had to get in there and break a piece of the cake off for her before she really started nomming away, haha.

I also got a little emotional right beforehand (who, me?), as this whole party really did feel like the culmination of what has been the most beautiful and most disruptive year of our lives. Penny turning a year old just felt, you know, significant. And I was really floored by all the love and support I received from all our wonderful friends and family members — throughout the entire year, of course, but in particular during the party.

 

So, yes, Penny’s birthday party was indeed a rousing success! It was really fun and really special and really memorable… and really a LOT of work, haha. There are so many people to thank for helping it all come together, especially my brother-in-law Dan for being the MVP who helped me set up all of the tables and chairs, my siblings and my friend Courtney for helping me decorate, my mom and my friend Ratanak for helping cook and replenish food throughout the party, and all the people who helped clean up, including my Uncle Allan, his girlfriend Lyuba, my cousin Sidney, and our friends Bre & Lance.

I’m really, really glad I did it up big and bold for our gorgeous girl’s first bash, but it’s not something I’m terribly eager to repeat next year, I must admit. We’ll see how I feel a year from now, but at this moment I’m thinking that paying for a play place to let a gaggle of crazy 2-year-olds run around for a couple hours sounds just about right, hahaha.

I know she won’t remember any of this, but I will carry around the memories of this day for the rest of my life. And I like to think about how one day Penny will be able to look back on these great photos that Ben & Taylor took, see how much fun and happiness she inspired, and see how very loved she has always been.

Party Like It’s 1999

Happy Monday, friends!

I hope you all had an awesome weekend, and for those of you local to the DMV area, that you enjoyed the absolutely INCREDIBLE weather that we were blessed with Thursday, Friday & Saturday! Sadly, things have taken a turn for the cold, wet, and dreary today, but at least I have the memories of 80* and sunny to get me through these next few days of drudgery.

Not to mention all the fantastic memories from the past week to think back upon whenever I’m in need of a good smile! The last, what, five days? Have been SUPERJAMPACKED with so much fun, friendship, and phat funky freshness that I honestly am not even sure where to start, lol.

First off, my sister came back into town for my birthday, which is always just the BESTTTT. She brought my nephew Alex with her (my two nieces stayed home with their daddy), who you may know is only 3 weeks older than Penny so it’s always the most ridiculous amounts of fun to get these two together.

 
And since some of my sister’s best friends from high school and college also still live in Northern Virginia, we got to bring a bit of extra adorableness into the fray (since I am squarely in the midst of that season of life and everyone I know has a baby right now, hehehehehe.) First we spent some time with the inimitable Anne and baby Riese…

(Which of course means we now have to flash back to the last time we got all three of these littles together and be overcome by how fast time is moving — anyone else? No, just me?)

And we also got to have a playdate with our friends Lara & Jim and their amazing little lovebug Amira. GIMME ALL TEH BABIEEEEES!

 
Now, despite evidence to the contrary, this past week wasn’t all babies all the time though (even though I obviously would have been A-OK with that since I’m painfully obsessed with my progeny, lol.) My whole family went out to dinner for my actual birthday on Wednesday (we left the babies sleeping at home under the watchful eye of my awesome nanny). We went to Clarity in Vienna and it was a seriously delicious (if very loooooong) meal.

 
And then, of course, Saturday was my big birthday bash!

We partied like it was 1999 and it. was. radical. I tried to go all out on the nostalgia front, so I went heavy with the 90s snacks, candy, and drinks. We’re talking ring pops, Bagel Bites, homemade Lunchables and Dunkaroos, Capri Suns, Kool-Aid Bursts (which were HELLA DELISH when mixed with vodka I’m not gonna lie!) — the works!

 
 
The best part was, of course, compiling the swiggity sweet 90s playlist for the party. Eve 6, Savage Garden, the Fugees, Salt-n-Pepa, Backstreet Boys, Foo Fighters, TLC, Destiny’s Child, Spice Girls, Lit, Fastball, Ace of Bass, the Cranberries, Bell Biv Devoe… it was tight. As were everyone’s superfly 90s outfits!

  
 
  
 
Thanks to everyone who came out and partied with me! It was all that AND a bag of chips, yo.

Buuuuuuuut also probably the last party I foresee throwing for myself for a long while. This ish was exhausting! I plan enough parties for work, hehe. And most critically, I simply don’t bounce back quite as quickly as I used to these days! These beginning of the night / end of the night photos illustrate this new reality quite nicely, haha (Old Man Sean was definitely struggling too hahahahaha.)

 
At least I have another person to focus all my personal-party-planning-prowess (say that 5x fast) on now, hehehe. I mean, are we shocked that I’ve already started planning Penny’s 1st birthday party? Five days in and I will admit that this decade has been pretty great so far! So let’s just keep that going for the next nine years, 361 days, k?

Breakfast, Onesies, and Technicolor Schnauzers

Well, it’s official: I am twenty-seven years old. Do you think that makes me an adult yet?

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Actually, don’t answer that.

As I mentioned in my last post, I celebrated this year’s birthday with a festive pajama jam breakfast party!

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Instead of my usual MO of putting together a themed excuse to get drunk birthday party, I opted to do someting more low-key and daytime-friendly. So, this year, friends donned their PJs and came over in the AM (well, late AM) for some scrumptious brunch treats!

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I put together a brunch table full of goodies, including a cereal bar, mimosa bar, little breakfast canapes, and even whipped up a batch of waffle iron hashbrowns.

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For the cereal bar, I put out four kinds of cereal (Cheerios, Cocoa Puffs, Lucky Charms, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch) and four kinds of milks (almond, 2%, chocolate, and skim). In retrospect, I probably should have put out one non-sugar cereal, and skipped the skim milk (which apparently nobody likes, hahaha.)

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The breakfast canapes were made from mini Eggo waffles topped either with whipped cream and a strawberry or brushed with maple syrup and a small piece of bacon. They were the hit of the party! Super delicious and fun to eat.

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The waffle iron hashbrowns were outta this world, too. All you do is pick up a bag of frozen tater tots from the grocery store and pop ’em into the waffle iron. Squish ’em down and let them cook! They get perfectly crisp on all sides and turned out way better than cooking tots in the oven. I am a waffle iron believer now!

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The mimosa bar was a lot of fun, too! I got four different kinds of juices — orange, orange mango, grapefruit, and guava — and had some additional fruit for folks to pop into their glass. I kept the champagne on ice and, voila!

Of course, the very best part of having a breakfast-themed birthday party is the fact that for your cake, well… see for yourself.

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Isn’t it beautiful? Donut cake > regular cake.

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Ta-da! Birthday pajama jam brunch success!

If you’re thinking about doing a breakfast bar for an upcoming event, I say definitely do it! It was really easy to set up (the biggest thing is just having enough pitchers/serving bowls), and of course picking up supplies at the grocery store is easy and relatively inexpensive.

Plus, Pikachu onesie aside, I think it’s a very elegant way to present breakfast/brunch. This sort of thing would be perfect for a bridal shower, baby shower, or mother’s day celebration in addition to birthdays. It would also be really fun to do brinner (breakfast for dinner) for a nighttime party!

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Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention that I dyed Daxter and Pixel for the occasion, heeeeeeeee. 😀

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Now they’re ready for Spring! (Don’t worry, I used completely animal-safe, vegetable-based dye.)

And so, alas, my twenty-seventh birthday has come and gone. But something tells me that 27 is going to be my very best year yet. I can’t wait to see what’s to come!

26 and Livin’ Large

Soooo, today is my twenty-sixth nameday/cakeday/birthday. Hip, hip, huzzah!

Those of you who have been long-time readers of this blog know that I’m kiiiiiiind of into my birthday.




To say the least.

And while 26 certainly has less pomp and circumstance attached to it than, say, my Quarter Quell did, I’m still pretty excited to usher in another faaabulous year.

After all, 25 has been pretty great to me! I started my dream job (I actually got the official offer letter ON my birthday last year — talk about a great present!), helped my beautiful niece usher in her very first birthday, and oh so much other great stuff in between. So here’s to another year of loving my job, spending time with my loved ones, AND rocking out this whole weight loss thing to boot, eh?

On the docket for this birthday weekend is:

Birthday brunch today with my brother Ben (how d’ya like that alliteration?)
Birthday dinner with Sean at an as-yet undisclosed location
My FROZEN-themed birthday party tomorrow (Let it goooo, let it goooo, you’re not 25 anymoooore…)
And a birthday dinner with my whole family on Sunday night!

Let the festivities commence!

See you never, 25. It’s been real.

The 25th Annual Hunger Games

This past Saturday, the citizens of Panem gathered for a celebration.

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The 25th Annual Hungers Games–my very own Quarter Quell–took place. Needless to say, it was glorious.

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But I figure, why tell you when I can show you?

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May the odds be ever in your favor… to get through the smorgasbord of photos you are about to be subjected to.

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Let the Games begin!

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First up: SUSTENANCE!

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Choose your weapon.

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Georgetown Cupcake!

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Cherry blossom district cupcakes and red velvet mockingjays.

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Lamb stew with dried plums (my own recipe!) and Caesar (Flickerman) salad. Get it? GET IT?!

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Fruit cornucopias and crostini with goat cheese & apples.

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Peeta Pita chips & hummus.

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Next up: LIBATIONS! (Sidebar: My cousin Nicky–Reaping Katniss–hand-drew the mockingjay pins on those shot glasses. Amazing, right?)

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Nightlock punch. Drink at your own risk.

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So. Many. Jello shots. From left to right, those are mosaic jello shots, strawberry champagne, and cupcake jello shots. Yep, you read that correctly. CUPCAKE jello shots. Let’s take a closer look:

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Aaaand one more time:

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So. Effie-ing. Good.

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And finally, the most important part: THE GUESTS! (Or, at least as many photos of the guests as I could take before I got too, ehm, libation…ed. Heh.)

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Katniss Everdeen, the Girl on Fire. 😉

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Reaping Katniss and Seneca Crane(‘s beard).

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TRACKER JACKERS!!

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District 2’s Tribute vs. The Capitol.

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Citizens of the Capitol came out to PLAY.

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(Another sidebar: I would absolutely sacrifice my dignity and become a citizen of the Capitol if it meant I got to wear lashes like Megan’s everyday.)

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Katnisses of the world unite!

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Even the pets of Panem came out to say hi.

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And I could not have done a thing without these two beautiful ladies by my side: Aileen & Ai Rei.

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The Ai’s have it! (That’s never gonna get old, by the way. Nope. Not a chance.)

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Thanks for all the birthday love, super fun times, and, of course, birthday wine, friends! Happy Hunger Games INDEED. <3 <3 <3