My Hubby’s Surprise Party & Tips for Planning One

For the last 6-months or so I’ve been planning a surprise party for my hubby, B — this quickly turned into a bit feat as we got closer to the actual surprise date!  You see, I get really excited about presents I pick out, gifts, or surprises – I like to bait people and often can’t wait, just wanting to spill the beans.  Planning this party was definitely a test of that (that I passed!) but was also a bit stressful, yet very exciting!
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So here are a few tips and areas to focus on when planning a surprise party!

Plan a Date.  Since B’s birthday is a few days after Christmas, it often gets looped in with the holiday and overlooked – so I wanted to make sure we avoided the holiday but also wanted it to be close.  Since December tends to be a busy month for everyone I planned over the summer and sent out my digital Save the Dates.  I also picked a Friday night, thinking it’d be easier for me to sneak away on a work day than a regular Saturday.

Location.  This one can be tricky! I initially had the perfect place picked out with an ideal party room – then they closed over the summer.  The options got smaller and I got picker, so the fall back was our house, that way I could control the food, decorations, alcohol, etc.  I just needed to keep the hubby away long enough to get the house decorated and sneak 30-people inside.

Plan the Diversion.  I wracked my brain on this for months, until I finally reached out to MW to help with the diversion – he was all over it and a HUGE help to this all working out!  This started getting planned just a few weeks before, and then initiated with B the week of the party – drinks after work, and then getting back to the house in time for the surprise!

Pick a Theme & Decorate.  To keep a somewhat complex event, simple – I wanted to stick with a classic color scheme of gold, black and white! I kept decorations easy too,  with lots of balloons, big gold number balloons, fun themed thirty banners, some ‘Vintage 1988’ plastic cups, pictures of the birthday boy and a photo booth with polaroids.  Pro-tip: Buy a mini-helium tank, it’s easier and cheaper! 

Food & Drink Favorites.  Since I was hosting, I could pretty much pick whatever for the food and I wanted to make sure to incorporate some of B’s favorite things. To do this, I ordered chips and salsa from his favorite spot picked up dark chocolate pretzels, another favorite!  From a beverage perspective, I made sure there was plenty of B’s favorite Christmas beer – and our friends/families brought plenty of beer options for him too!
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My goal was to plan a surprise party for B to celebrate his upcoming 30th, while keeping it simple and intimate – which isn’t easy to do with big families and lots of friends, but somehow I think I pulled it off! B was DEFINITELY surprised and had no idea, I kept the charade up all day – even though I took a half day and had planning for months.  Another plus of planning so early is I slowly ordered decorations and party supplies throughout the months so I really only needed to worry about the food the week of!

It was fun, but I don’t think I’ll be planning another surprise party anytime soon!

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House Tour: Our Green Christmas

This year it seemed like we were super late to the game getting our Christmas decor up compared to everyone else – although we do like to wait until after the Thanksgiving holiday.  With B’s surprise party this past weekend, I was extra motivated to have the house Christmas ready!

A few of our new pieces that helped put the finishing touches on our Christmas decor were our pillow cases from H&M, the mini brush trees for our dining room centerpiece and a new tree skirt!  …Speaking of tree’s can I gush over our tree for a minute?  We always get a real tree and this year decided to go a bit bigger in height – than we normally do.  We both laid eyes on our tree and decided to pull the trigger, we were joking about having an elf moment when we put it up in the house, but it fit! A bigger tree called for more lights – but she is a looker.

Besides being in love with our big tree, every year I always have fun putting up our alpine tree in our dining room – this is where I layer on all of our ornaments – and what I love even more than this is opening up all of our ornaments and all the fond memories that come with them, and the ornaments that I forget about!  We also put up a smaller alpine tree in our bay window stairwell, that has all of my childhood Hallmark Barbie ornaments and a few other ones!

Our house has been transformed into a little Christmas wonderland, and I just love our little Christmas snow globe that we get to enjoy for the next few weeks.  Now that the house is all ready, we can start getting ready for the big day through visiting with friends, holiday crafts and shopping for presents!

Shop my pieces: H&M Reindeer pillowcase, Velvet dark green pillowcaseLarge bottle brush Christmas tree, Pom Pom tree skirt from Target

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Latest Obsessions 12.18

It’s December! I think I’m almost done decorating our house… just a few final finishing touches and we’re in full on Christmas.  With the decorating nearly behind me there is all the other holiday fun to get ready for and obsess about! So here are my final latest obsessions for the 2018 year.
Latest Obsessions 12.18 - bee life blog
Adding a Little Sparkle.  From sequin sleeves to glittery heels, I always love a little sparkle especially at this time of the year.  I’ve had my eyes on these taupe block heels from Old Navy since I spotted them and love the subtle touch of the heel, which is perfect for a holiday party or four.  I’ll have more holiday fashion inspiration up next week!

All the Greenery Wreaths.  Yup! I’ve obsessing over just plain old, classic green wreaths – but the fun part comes with the styling and finding different ways to hang them a little less traditionally.  Like hanging them in our dining room, as an accessory on the back side of the door facing into the living room – and even our main door having a large wreath hang a bit lower on the door than normal.  Styling simple pieces, with fun pops of ribbon in different styles or places can had a designer touch.

Pottery Barn’s Plaid Alphabet Mug.  I know it’s the season of buying for other people, but sometimes it’s hard not to shop for yourself!  I absolutely love these plaid alphabet mugs from PB – they’re classic and festive. B and I first spotted them when we were window shopping in Palm Desert – and said we’d order them online!

Christmas Jammy’s.  This year we’ll be having a quiet Christmas with my family, so I had a fun idea of couple-christmas themed pajamas, just to have a little fun!  I found these super cute and funny Elf Sweatshirts on Amazon and was inspired – and the rest of the family was game too.  Can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with.

As I hinted – I’ve definitely been obsessing a bit over all the holiday fashion trends (like always!) so I’ll be sharing a few of my holiday fashion obsessions on the blog next week!

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Image Source: Wreath Photo 

Weekend Recap – A Christmas Story Run

This past weekend was full of festive activities to kickoff the first weekend of December!  Our Saturday started with a trip downtown with the extended family for the A Christmas Story Run 5k/10k.  With it’s sixth year in, this has always been on our wish list of races to-do, but never seems to workout, we finally signed up so we could partake in the little tradition that our extended family has been doing the last few years!
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With following along with the tradition came evil elf hats from the movie and walking the length of the 5k… which for B and I wasn’t ideal, but we wanted to partake in the all the fun and experience!  On top of walking that meant, stopping to take pictures at the mile markers, Cleveland sign and seeing everyone’s costumes!  We finally made it to the house, which by the time we’d gotten there from walking, it was madness in the little A Christmas Story village in Tremont.  So we shuffled past the house with the crowd. B and I ended up getting our run in, while the rest of the family waited for a bus to get back downtown – we decided to run back to complete the circle and get our actual 5k run in!

After taking some photos in  picturesque downtown CLE – we did a little shopping before stopping at our go-to post race spot, Brewnuts for A Christmas Story themed donuts to go and then grabbed brunch at XYZ Tavern in Gordon Square!  It was a fun little adventure with the family, while feeling a little silly in our hats (because they had to be worn everywhere) – but it was all in good fun and a great way to kickoff the holiday season.

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Travel: Guide to Palm Spring’s Aerial Tram

One tip we received during our honeymoon was to do the Palm Spring’s Aerial Tram.  Unfortunately, by the time we found out about it, tickets were sold out and we were SOL.  So this time we planned ahead and made sure it was on our trip itinerary.  So if you’re visiting Palm Springs, this is definitely a fun adventure to spend a few hours doing and make sure its a successful experience with these tips!

  1.  Buy Tickets Early! Not only will this guarantee you a day/time to visit and experience the tram, but you’ll basically skip the line when it’s your trip time.  Tickets range from $26 for adults to $17 for children.
  2. Plan for 20-30 extra minutes for Arrival.  We definitely cut it a little close with our arrival time and ticket time.  First, because our GPS took us on a wild adventure to the wrong address, second – there are different level parking lots depending on the time of day and how busy it is, you might be farther away – so get ready to hike up a hill or wait for the bus to come pick you up!  Also there is a $6-8 parking fee.
  3. Consider Planning Your Trip Around A Meal.  This would be a way to fully experience everything the mountain station has to offer.  From a casual cafe, full bar, or the Pine’s more upscale restaurant, this already memorable trip could be topped off with a delicious meal and endless desert views.
  4. Dress in Layers.  At an elevation of 8,516 ft. it is definitely cooler on top of the mountain than the base – so depending on when you go plan accordingly.  When we visited it was in the 70’s at the base and in the 40’s at the top!
  5. Consider Hiking.  If you’re in for more adventure and activity verses a sit-down meal, there are over 50-miles of hiking trails to take advantage of, so dress and pack appropriately for an afternoon of hiking!

IMG_2469Honestly, I totally underestimated what this experience would be like – from being on multiple trams in the Teton Mountains, the mountains surrounding the desert cities although beautiful are smaller in comparison, or at least that is what I thought!  The quick 10-minute tram ride, is a stunner and fairly intense with steep inclines running 2.5 miles and climbing 5,873 from the Valley Station to the Mountain Station.  It was an incredible ride up and took us out of the desert for the time we experienced the aerial tram!

Learn more about the tram here!

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Travel: Palm Springs Eats

We celebrated our one year anniversary with a little trip back to Palm Springs/Palm Desert California.  What better time to head out west when the temperatures are dipping below 30-degrees and snow flurries are becoming a regular occurrence?  After getting our feet wet a little last year on our honeymoon – we definitely knew of a few spots we wanted to go back too and then a handful of spots yet to explore – and a few we had on our list from watching Desert Flippers on HGTV.

Our Brunch Spot.  From meatloaf with an egg on top, biscuits and gravy, french toast or a tradition eggs with bacon, everything is beyond delicious at Wilma & Frieda’s.  A MUST-HAVE is their biscuits, they fall apart and melt in your mouth, plus are served with a fruit jam that just puts it over the top.

Because It’s Just So Good.  I could’ve had In & Out burgers everyday, the double cheeseburger is the only way to go.  Plus the first bite needs to be documented at all accounts – plus with a side of animal style fries, yum, yum, yum! Whether you’re getting this go to or dining in the experience of an old-school diner topped with a delicious meal is a west-coast must.

The Perfect Drink + Dinner Combo.  One of our favorite nights was spent with family friends who live in the desert year round.  We told them to pick the spots and we would come along for the ride!  We started with drinks at the bar at Lulu Bistro (which we also brunched at) to get the evening started with a fun atmosphere and music.  From there we popped over to Tropicale and had the perfect seats out on their patio, which is a must when you dine in there! We ordered a number of small plates, continued to drink, laugh and just sampled a variety of dishes – the calamari was by far one of the best things we had!

A few other honorable mentions that are must visits throughout the greater Palm Springs and Palm Desert area are AC3 at Hotel Paseo – the service, food and atmosphere was incredible it was a good pick.  Spencers was another brunch spot, but came highly recommended as a favorite dinner spot from our desert dwelling friends – the patio again was magical with trees growing up right up into the sky.

We had a great time eating our way through our trip -one night we even grabbed sushi at a Japanese Steakhouse because we were craving it for our actual anniversary dinner!  It was so good, although we didn’t put the Steakhouse name and idea together until we sat down. Every spot we went had a fun yet welcoming atmosphere with bright colors and warm faces – not to mention most of the patios had heaters too, so it was perfect for morning breakfast or late night dinners!

The sad part and good part is there are so many other, trendy, delicious spots that we haven’t even visited yet! The good news is we’ll also have new places to try while still being able to head back to our favorites.  What’s your favorite desert dining spot?

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Wednesday Reminders – Grateful

On the eve of Thanksgiving, it’s time to take a moment before all the crazy starts tomorrow and really reflect and remember what we’re truly grateful for.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m grateful for the wonderful people in my life.  My family, my friends, our neighbors and my coworkers — we are lucky to have so many thoughtful and caring people in our lives that we can call family.

We have been blessed with such a wonderful life and that in part has been because of the fabulous people in our lives and the opportunities they’ve provided for us to get to where we are today.  I hope you all have a blessed, happy and stress free Thanksgiving and remember to squeeze your friends and family a little tighter this year!

xox.

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Cheers to One Year!

Yesterday was B and I’s official one year wedding anniversary.  It’s amazing that it’s been one year, sometimes it feels like our wedding was just yesterday and sometimes it feels like it’s been years! I was looking back at my wedding final update on The Bee Life, and it was fun to read the 6-things I was looking forward to the most.  As a refresher, here they are along with some fun memories for each.

  • Seeing the reception venue all set-up and all the tables put together – it has all been a vision in my head for well over a year… and I can’t wait to see it all put together. This was one of my most favorite parts, luckily we were able to get in on Friday to get stuff set up before the big day – the venue was everything we dreamed it would be and more, completely obsessed.
  • Walking down the aisle to B and seeing him all done up in his suit! This was a surreal moment, I was trying so hard not to cry – which I was successful keeping it together.  This part was such a blur! But seeing videos of this, I was sprinting down the aisle, ha!, probably so I wouldn’t cry.  Recap: Our Ceremony
  • My Father/Daughter dance – it’s going to be a tear jerker but that’s all I’m saying. I loved this moment and it definitely got a lot of guests teared up.  We danced to A Whole New World from Aladdin, which happened to be the same song my dad and I danced too when I was about three – and we had that video playing in the background as we danced to it again!
  • Dancing the night away with B, our family and friends.  So. much. fun.
  • Eating MY wedding cake and drinking champagne! Our cake was so delicious and I didn’t drink nearly enough champagne!!
  • Finally being B’s wife! The best part.

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If you missed all our wedding fun, catch-up on some old posts; Girls getting ready and the groom getting ready pre-wedding.  And check out the links above for the Venue and Ceremony!! Our wedding was pretty perfect, and our first year of marriage has been a nice coast through and happy to have all the wedding festivities behind us!

Cheers!

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Here are some helpful wedding planning posts if you’re getting ready for the big day! Creating Your Sweetheart Table, Planning Your Honeymoon, Tips for Creating Your Wedding Registry, 8 Wedding RSVPs You Won’t be Expecting, and Tips for Swoon Worthy Engagement Pictures.

Bee Holiday Hacks – Christmas Cards

With the holidays quickly approaching, I wanted to share one of my holiday hacks for Christmas cards!  I love creating and sending Christmas cards, and usually like to get a head start on these – but I really got a jump start on this year and also wanted to share some other ways I like to share the Christmas spirit in a thoughtful and personal way, so you can too!
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Plan Ahead.  Christmas cards can sneak up on you, so try to plan ahead whether it’s booking a portrait session with your honey or family at the end of Summer or early fall, or it’s getting ahead and ordering small batches of cards as you can.

Take Advantage of Freebies! 
I love Shutterfly – and luckily because I have the app and get notifications I can pick and choose which promos I want to take advantage of.  Shutterfly and Tinyprints were having 10-free cards throughout the month of October which can save you a ton of money when you’re only paying a few dollars for shipping!  You can also do this for address labels – I was buying Christmas patterns in the Summer!

Mix It Up.  Don’t be afraid to mix-up your Christmas cards.  Sometimes I can’t decide on which style, color or pattern I like – so I order multiple versions!  This is also a great way to use multiple photos for a gallery or one for more of a statement.  It’s also OK to not send photo-cards to everyone on your list, buy some fun Christmas cards to mix into your group, that way you won’t be breaking the bank!

Glam Your Envelopes.  Don’t be afraid to pick a colored envelope or add in a paper insert.  These can be fun surprises to recipients and pull the entire look of the cards together.  Also, if you use a darker envelop color it can be a fun way to write in gold when addressing your envelopes!

Personalize It.  Beyond sharing vacation pictures or memories throughout the year with friends and family that you might not see often, I always like to at least write our names or a little note on the back of the cards. Sadly, Christmas cards can easily be impersonal with the easy ability of printing/typing whatever you want to say!  So try and find ways to personalize it so you’re friends and family don’t feel like an after thought, or you just stuffed a card into an envelope.

If you’re going the photo-card route, these can add up quick, so find ways to either use a promo code or take advantage of those promotions to get some free holiday cards!  Don’t be afraid to mix-up your styles or photos, my one go-to design pick is always trying to mix in some plaid and having a picture of Moz or two.  One last hack is making sure to purchase Christmas stamps in mid-November, AKA now, so that you can get the cute designs before they run out!

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Shop My Cards: Merry Colorful Holiday Card from Tinyprints | Diagonal Wishes Holiday Card from Tinyprints | Gradient Scripted Merry Christmas Card from Shutterfly | Cheerful Foliage Christmas Card from Shutterfly