Monday, July 14, 2014

24. // Birthday Details

This post should really be called 'One of the Many Reasons Why KC is the Very, Very Best,' because he is. He knew how down I was feeling about summer, and about my birthday in general (friends being out of town, moved away, and perpetually sharing my day with the 4th) and he went out of his way to make sure I had a great birthday. :) Thank you love!

First (two weeks before my birthday), we went on the mystery train ride, post here. Which was our fun, fancy, celebratory date.
Then, the next weekend (1 week before my birthday), he planned a surprise game night with our friends. I thought we were having another date night, and then our friend Michael walked into the backyard.... to which I said, 'Are we having a date with Michael?' More people came after that and we had a yummy, KC made dinner of kabobs, pico de gayo, PW fruit salad, and roasted potatoes! It was all delicious, and took a lot of work... I appreciated it SO much. Then we had s'mores (my favorite) and drinks while we played board games. I got to see so many people, and I won a game of 5 player Ticket to Ride! It was a fun night! -Thanks to everyone who came over and contributed! 

The photo above is of my birthday outfit, KC suggested I wear it to the party since I hadn't had the chance yet. :)

The next week, (the week of my actual birthday), I got together with two of my former roommates for our weekly get-together, and we decided to watch a movie and have ice cream. This really wasn't a birthday gathering, but it felt like one! We watched Waitress, one of my favorites!
The day of my birthday I worked a half-day at work and then got to go shopping with my sisters and mom. We haven't been shopping together in a really, really long time. It was really fun to visit our favorite stores and spend the afternoon together. Jess wanted to get me a present that I really wanted so she bought me this great S'mores Cookbook at World Market! It was on super-sale and I am so psyched about it! I will have to share the recipe that I tried on the 4th, delicious! I ended up picking out a package of thank you cards (addicted to stationary), another set of reusable sauce containers (for our lunches) and a bag full of thrifted goodies at Goodwill and a bag at the Salvation Army, which my mom and OE decided to gift me for my birthday as well! It was fun, and sweet of them to buy me little treasures. I only spent $6 and came away with quite a bit of fun stuff. :) 


Duchess really enjoyed the embroidered straw bag! :)
The night of my birthday KC took me to Genovese, a local Italian restaurant, because we decided that it would be fun to eat Italian and then watch Roman Holiday (from my Summer Bucket List, here) on my actual birthday. We had a groupon for Genovese where you spent $30 for two entrees and an antipasti (usually $55+), which was a pretty great deal!

The dinner was really good. For our antipasti we got fried Rissoto with aioli, which was AMAZING. I also had a glass of sangria, which was equally delicious. Yum! Then we got our entrees. KC had pork loin, with grilled broccoli and mashed potatoes, while I opted for the seafood risotto. Both were great! My risotto had SO much seafood in it though, that I think I will have filled my quota until about November. :) I got to try mussels and octopus for the first time though, which is exciting in my book! Lastly, we had dessert. Kyle ordered cheesecake with an orange berry syrup, and I ordered tiramisu, we shared both. Each was really good, but being coffee lovers, we favored the tiramisu.
We left the restaurant full and content, glad to pay less for an excellent meal.

We got home and decided that we didn't feel like watching a movie. -Though I am happy to report, that we did watch Roman Holiday this week, and it was adorable!

Now I am considering making a 101 things in 1,001 days list like my friend Sarah, here! Or a 30 by 30 list! Or both! What do you think? Either way, I officially started this 5-year journal on my birthday!
I hope that you have an adventure this week!

Alexandra

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Early Birthday Date on the Mystery Train // June 2014

For a while I had been hearing good things about the Kansas Belle Dining Train, so for my birthday Kyle booked a table for the murder mystery and dinner!
I was so excited because it's not the kind of thing that we get to do a lot. We rarely have a reason to dress up and eat fancy meals... so this was a lot of fun for me!
I chose a dress that I've had for a year or so, but never had the chance to wear, and a scarf to make it feel extra fancy. I threw on my black peep-toe wedges and grabbed my newest vintage black clutch and we headed off to the train.
The day was hot as always as we drove out to Baldwin, Kansas to the train depot. We waited in the lobby of the depot with the other passengers before boarding the train. We were quite a bit younger than the average person in the group, but there were probably three other younger couples on the trip as well.
We all fit in one car, and we were seated at the end of the car. We sat down and I was I in love with the train. It was decorated patriotically for the holidays, but it was like we were in another time. The 1940's to be exact, because that is when these particular train cars were used for travel. 
It was so neat to see all of the fun details that pulled the feel of the train together, from old lamps on the tables, to curtains on the windows and the big band music playing in the background.

Not long after getting seated our host explained the evening to us; we (the passengers) were to be the characters in the murder mystery skit, and during the halfway point we would eat our five course meal. We were personally a little thrown off. We had read that the train employed actors from The New Lawrence Theatre, and were expecting more of a production. On top of that, I am just not one who desires to act in front of others. I mean, I was the girl involved in the high school plays and musicals every year, but never had more than a few lines, by choice. So this was something that I really wasn't expecting or prepared for. Luckily, only one person from each table had to take a part, so KC (who is such a great sport!) decided to take one instead. He's the BEST.
We started eating our appetizer plate while the parts were assigned and the information given out. KC ended up getting the part of Boris, a possible Russian spy. It turned out that there were somewhere between fifteen and twenty parts... all but two were to be acted out by the passengers. The appetizer plate was filled with grapes, peppers, celery, sausage, cheese etc. It was all pretty good, I don't eat cold cheese so I didn't attempt it, but they were huge hunks! I'm not sure how one would eat a piece in an elegant way.
The waitresses seemed to be taking drink orders (in mass quantity) from everyone in the car besides us... but we finally got someone's attention and got to order. I decided to try an old fashioned sounding one called the 'Yankee Clipper'. It was apple Schnaaps and gingerale. It was very, very good!

Soon enough we were taking off toward Ottawa. It was so fun to be on a train again! The last time was probably about 10 years ago when my family and I took the train from KS to Chicago. This was more fun overall though, because of the theme and because it was much shorter, and there was definitely more to see out the windows. We passed corn fields and little forests...it was rural KS at it's best and greenest!

The mystery began with our hosts acting out thier parts, and eventually the passengers had lines to join in. It started out pretty fun, there were quite a few passengers who seemed to enjoy acting! One problem though, was that it was very hard to hear a lot of the diologue from the passengers in the front of the car. Another thing, is that some of the middle aged passengers doing a lot of the acting were about four drinks ahead of us... and getting really loud, and of course making adjustments to their lines to add periodic dirty jokes. This wasn't so much annoying as it was really hard to keep track of who was speaking, what they were saying, what they actually meant to say etc... doesn't really make it possible to solve a mystery! Eventually one of the characters 'died' and so we started our meal.
The dinner began with a sort of spicy/bitter cabbage soup, that was interesting. It wasn't my favorite, but KC really liked it; which surprised me as he isn't much of a soup guy! :) 
After that we had our ceasar salads, which were good. 
Then the entree came, which in our case was prime rib, a baked potato and green beans. The prime rib was excellent! And, I'm not much of a carnivore. The green beans were nice and fresh but very garlicky... and the baked potato was just ok. Overall it was just a lot of food, a pretty tasty meal, but probably not quite worth what we paid.
After the entrees were gone the mystery started back up, and I think everyone had about three more drinks with dinner. It was so crazy that it was hard to follow what was happening. Too many characters, too much booze and everything made it even harder to hear and solve the mystery. Plus people continued to change their lines, which only made the host exclaim over and over, 'That's not what I wrote!', in good fun, but without relent. By the time we got our cheesecake and the most alcoholic coffee in the world, my head was so overwhelmed I didn't even know how to go about determining the killer.

When the skit was over we were each given a few written clues and were told to trade over and over to get the most information to solve the mystery. We ended up trading with about half of the tables before our 'time was up' and none of our clues were very helpful. We just ended up choosing someone, though as soon as we turned in our paper, KC figured it out and it was too late. Oh, well! Though it would have been fun to be the only team to guess correctly. :)

Overall, this particular trip didn't make us feel that the extra money for the murder mystery part was worth it. The food was more reasonbable, and going back to enjoy just a dinner and music could be very nice. I really did enjoy eating on a train and getting dressed up for a new adventure with KC! I think that going back for the mystery again would only happen with a larger group of people, or when they are definitely having actors from the theatre there. I feel that would make it more worth the price!

Thank you Kyle, for the sweet birthday date. It was great to try something new with you!

Have you guys ever been to a murder mystery party, dinner or train ride?

I would love to hear about it in the comments!

Thank you for Reading!

Alexandra

Friday, July 11, 2014

Fourth of July, 2014!

I hope that everyone had a wonderful 4th of July! 

My birthday is the 3rd, so every year we go to my family's house for a cookout and to set off fireworks where it's legal, as well as celebrate my birthday.

On our way to see my family this year we saw a dog running across the sidewalk near the highway without any people around. I had posted something on facebook earlier that morning about thinking about pets on the 4th, (more get lost then than any other day!), but never expected to need to use that information. We followed the dog, tracked her down and eventually got a hold of her owner. I was so glad that we were able to help her get home! For more information on summer pet safety click here.

Here are the pictures from this year, and one video of a rogue firework caught in slow motion. 
Actually from a few weeks ago, but I had to include it!
Vintage sheet music I've been holding onto. 
Vintage Jewelry for the day!
All my parent's kids. Olivia is actually smiling!! 
Jess is adorable.
Enjoying the nice weather (rare!).
Dad and Kalor.
Olivia's pinwheel.
Dad roasting marshmallows.
Sisters. Finally got one with Olivia smiling, sheer joy right there. :)
Just me and Jess.
Aftermath of the daytime Fireworks. 
It's finally dark!
We love fireworks, and generally aren't too afraid of them, but every once in a while... one gets away. I happened to be taking a slow motion video at the time.. good catch! Luckily, it didn't actually hit anyone!
Crazy huh?!

I hope that you all had a lovely holiday and are having a great summer so far! Excited to catch up with you guys and post more of what we've been up to!

Thank You for Reading!
Alexandra

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Hey There, July


How are you all doing?
Time flies when you are having fun. (and sometimes you're having too much fun to blog about it).
KC and I had June off in between our old jobs ending and our new ones starting, so we spent the month organizing our apartment, working on projects, cooking together, playing board games and watching lots of television from the '90's. It has been really nice to have so much time to de-stress and spend time together!
Now we have both started our new jobs, and are getting into the swing of a new schedule, which means I'll have a time to catch up on summer blogging!


So, happy July everyone!


Coming up soon: 
Summer Recipes
Summer Outfits 
A few DIYs
Woohoo! 
XOXO,
Alexandra 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Snapshots of Vampire Weekend // The Crossroads // June 2014

A few weekends ago we went to the Vampire Weekend show in KC. It was a great show and the Crossroads was a fun new concert venue for us. 
As soon as the show was announced, we knew we needed to buy tickets... it would sell out fast and would definitely be a great show. We'd had several other shows pass by and sell out, that we were pretty sad to miss... So rather than let that happen again, we decided to go right away, and I am so glad we did.
We have several friends who are really into Vampire Weekend, and it turned out that one of them wanted to go with us! So we went to a concert with a friend, which is really rare and fun! And it turns out that he is super into Vampire Weekend. It worked out really well, and was a good time. 
We got to the venue and found a place to stand. It is a really open outdoor area that is fenced in behind a block in the Crossroads Art District downtown. It has several bars, is connected to the restaurants and is outfitted with port-a-potties ... joy. The ground is sloped which made it easy to watch from many places, and it eventually caught a breeze. The ground is covered in wooden mulch, which is relatively comfy to stand on, but definitely retains the heat from the day after the sun goes down. 
We watched the opening band Cults, which I wasn't familiar with. I was really pleasantly surprised though! I'm excited to look into their music more over the summer. It's pretty rare that I enjoy and opening band so much without knowing their songs. :) 
About 45 minutes later Vampire Weekend came on. They played their current singles and most popular ones from the past albums pretty quickly, but still really held the audience. I was impressed with their ability to move back and forth between such different songs so easily. They covered quite a range and I found it highly entertaining. 
We also tried some of the pizza from Grinder's the shop connected to the venue. It was really good and everything else they had looked and sounded amazing. :) I almost got a Strawberry Daiquiri... but it wasn't quite frozen yet. We'll have to go back sometime for lunch or dinner.
Toward the end of the show they played a song called 'Horchata' which always makes me think of my friend Brittany (from B. Michelle Bake Shop) and her husband Tyler. It was a little bittersweet because they were driving across the country to Boston the next day, and staying permanently. Or at least as permanently as you can when you are in your early 20's. :) But it made me smile. 
The venue was strange in that you didn't exit through the two large gates where you entered, but through the Grinder's restaurant connected to the venue. I felt a little like veal.... but it really didn't take too long to get back to the car. Can I just add that owning a small car is so awesome when it comes to public parking.... you can fit into all of those awkwardly small parking spots, especially when parallel parking is involved, compact car garage spaces and places where the other two cars are parked super poorly ... it's pretty great. 

Now, I want to download some more Vampire Weekend music, and check out some of Cults' stuff too.

What is your favorite Vampire Weekend song? 

Have you ever seen them live?

What is the best concert you've ever been to? Or best venue?

Check out more concerts we've been to under the 'Music' tab, above.

Thank you for Reading!

Alexandra

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Jess's Beach Themed Wedding Shower // MOH // May 2014

For those of you who may have seen this post; you know that my little sister, Jess is getting married! Woohoo! As the 'Matron' (ugh) of Honor, I'm trying to take on a lot of the work and make everything really special for her. Through Pinterest and Facebook Chat she decided on the theme 'Two Less Fish in the Sea' and from there we took off with a beach themed couple's wedding shower. 

KC and I designed the invitations together and sent them out. We had fun coming up with a simple invitation, that reflected the beach theme, but wasn't over the top. I've blurred out confidential information.. :) Maybe I should have been a designer? ;) 
Both my mother and I worked really hard to put together many of the things my sister liked the most decor wise, and then together with Jess and Olivia (flower girl to be!) we put it all together! Much credit should go to both Kalor & KC for all of their lifting/hanging/carrying help among other things. And my dad too who helped us so much during clean up! :) Of course I am also so grateful to the amazing friends and family who contributed their time, energy, love, recipes, money, gifts and advice to this couple!

I'm excited to share the details with you guys! & hopefully inspire you to turn 'less than beautiful spaces' into something special! Below you will find decor, food, game, activity and wardrobe ideas for a beach themed wedding shower. Read on. :) 
At our opening table we used a cream table cloth that we had (from my wedding) as a base. Then we topped it with a strip of burlap down the center, and a fish net (from the dollar store). We scattered shells across the top and then added the important stuff. 
For their 'guest book' we purchased a calendar (at Michael's) that the guests could fill out with their birthdays and anniversaries. This way, Jess never has to ask about a birthday! :) 
I had the idea that it would be nice for people to leave 'Pearls of Wisdom' or marriage advice for the two of them at their shower. This gets the guests involved and lets pass on their ideas and tried-and-true marriage tips! I had been given these awesome frames for our wedding, and we decided to paint them this shade of blue to use for the party. (we also used them here.) To make them, simply take a large frame, cut chicken wire to size, and then staple to the back of the frame with a staple gun. You can hang in a variety of ways. The small clothespins can be found at a craft store (we bought more at Michael's). My mom used her neighbor's Cricut to cut out the ovals and letters for the sign. We then just glued the letters to the ovals, laced ribbons through them & clipped to the boards. This can obviously be done many different ways! :) For the 'pearls' we just used Cricut cut circles. You can also buy a circle craft punch and do them that way etc. We chose card stock for thickness & durability. Then we just placed the 'pearls' in a basket on the table under the clip boards. (see picture below).
Also on the table: Bamboo whales (from my house, of course!), photo 'messages in bottles' and a wedding day countdown chalkboard (pictured below). To make the 'messages in bottles' we poured a bit of sand in the bottom, rolled up sepia tone 4 X 6 photos of the couple and dropped them in. (tip: the larger the opening of the bottle, the less rolled the photos will need to be, and less rolled they will look in the jars!). If the opening is large enough you could also add shells or starfish. We also tied chalkboard tags on the necks of the bottles to write out August, 30th 2014. So people would know when the wedding is. We found these tags in the bargain bins at Michael's.
 We repurposed this old chalkboard by painting it blue (with the leftover framed clip board paint). Lastly we added a cup of pens so that multiple people could write out their marriage advice at the same time. 
On another table we had a recipe binder set out for guests to put recipes for the couple in. We also had some beachy themed art and then this picture frame, for their future honeymoon photo. One of my favorite projects was this fish bowl candle. We ended up making three and I think that they turned out really well. We bought (half price) fish bowl shaped glass jars in the floral section at Hobby Lobby and then added these cute beach colored candles (from Michael's). We then poured sand in the base of the jar and added a handful of shells and some tiny blue starfish. We just painted some of the tiny starfish that were in the package we bought with the leftover blue paint from the frames & chalkboard above. This was so easy, cheap and turned out really nicely! 
My mom purchased these three chalkboard tags and hung them on the walls to make the place look more decorated. I think that they looked really nice and helped the theme! 
We decorated the food table the same way as the others, but added these two wooden signs (half price from Hobby Lobby) that say 'Life's a Beach' & 'Beach House', which filled out the table and can be used in Jess & Kalor's house after the party. 
Since this party was in the afternoon, we just had cupcakes, chocolates, fruit kabobs and a veggie tray. We used some cupcake stands that I already own (from Target) to display the cupcakes that mom, Jess and Olivia made together. The chocolate ones were decorated with blue frosting and candy pearls and the vanilla ones were decorated with white frosting and custom made tooth pick decorations that say 'I Do' and 'J&K'. You can make these by cutting out paper hearts (with the Cricut or otherwise), writing on or stamping them with your phrases and using scrapbooking gluedots to secure two hearts together with a toothpick inbetween. Then just stick the toothpick into the cupcake.
We also purchased a shell and starfish candy mold at Hobby Lobby ($2) and some white melting chocolate. We followed the instructions and created some cute little white chocolate shells for people to eat. You could also use these to top cupcakes with colored frosting! We sat ours on a tray that had been lined with brown sugar to make it look like sand. 
On our healthier table we had both fruit kabobs and veggie trays. 
So yummy! There was also a very large wooden whale on this table and two small burlap canvases (painted blue) with a starfish on them. The little canvases were easy to create and made good giveaway items for guests who participated in activities etc.
This venue has a kitchen (which is great!) but it is a little dated and open to the room. To distract from that we added a few more dollar store nets and a starfish garland (from Michael's). BEWARE: opening packages of starfish is an extremely smelly task. Air them out! This was also a nice way to decorate this wall above the beverages.
Because the walls in this building are so beat up, we tried to cover them as much as possible. My mom made yet another banner with Cricut shapes and letters that was strung in the middle of the room behind where the couple sat and opened their gifts. We put another dollar store net behind it, to fill it out more.
Below the banner my mom also made (she's a rockstar right!?!) these really sweet bunting out of antique white fabric and ribbon. She also took a 'M' from Hobby Lobby and wrapped it in twine to hang behind them. They are going to be able to hang this in their home as well. :) I think these items really helped frame them and also to make the room look so much nicer. GO MOM! 
As for games we played a very traditional bridal shower game that I am calling 'The Laundry Game'. But since it was a couple's shower and the world has changed a bit... we had Jess & Kalor both participate! After that we had a few more groups of people go. Including my parents (which was funny!). The volunteers got little gifts for participating (nail polish for the women and inexpensive pocket knives for the men).
'The Laundry Game'

Supplies:

-Two lengths of Rope (clotheslines)
-Two laundry baskets
-Selection of clothing for each basket (ours EACH had; 1 women's shirt, 1 pair of men's socks, 1 kitchen towel and 1 onesie).
-Enough Clothespins for all of these items
-Two baby blankets (or towels)
-Two 5lb bags of potatoes 
-Volunteers to hold the clotheslines

How to Play: 

Divide up supplies evenly in the two baskets. Ask for four volunteers from the audience to hold the clotheslines up. Start with the bride and groom to be as the first competitors. Put the bride in front of one filled basket and clothesline and put the groom in front of the other (preferably facing the audience). When you say start, the participants have to grab their baby (5 lb bag of potatoes) and wrap it in a blanket, and then proceed to hang all of their laundry on the line (while holding the 'baby'!) as quickly as possible. This is more fun the more enthusiastic the audience is, and the more willing to participate the guests are. 

We also played 'Name That Love Tune (through the decades)'. To play this simply prepare clips of popular love songs through the decades and play for the audience. Supply paper and pens and then reveal the answers. We had a diverse group, so we picked three songs from each decade 1950's - 2010's. But you can do less, or tailor to your audience etc. Overall it was really fun, and we again, gave gifts to winners. 

A finishing touch:
I was making some shell clips already, when Jess found some cute starfish clips on Pinterest. So I made a few of those as well. It looks so pretty in her hair (which I still can't believe I did!). To make the clip: purchase starfish and claw clips at your craft store. Secure the starfish to the clip with hot glue and let dry. Because starfish are so brittle I did not secure it to the part of the clip you press down on. I didn't want to to break! Since Jess and I each have curly hair I tucked it into her curls to hide the little metal spot you press on. I also made some out of coral shells and glued the small blue starfish (that we used with the candles) to the shell. Easy Peasy.

At the end of the shower the couple had not only a full car load of thoughtful and generous gifts, but fun memories of the day and many 'pearls of wisdom' from their guests! I was so pleased with how many people contributed! It will be so fun for them to look back on the advice throughout their marriage.
Awwww... look at these two! :) 
I hope that both Jess & Kalor had a wonderful time at the shower. We had so much fun throwing it for you & celebrating with you! :) 
And sister, once you are married I hope we can still be silly like this. ;) 

I hope you enjoyed these ideas and photos. Maybe you can use them to make your own beach-themed soiree someday! :) 

To get Engagement Party Ideas, click here!

What is the best themed party you've ever pulled off? I would love to hear about it!

Thank you for reading!


XO,


Alexandra