1 October 2013
September was SO good! As many of you know, it’s my very favorite month of the year, and here in NC we had picture perfect weather — warm, with the perfect note of crispness in the air. Our windows were open almost every day, and all that fresh air definitely confirmed for me the start of a new season.
We capped off a wonderful month with a visit from my parents this past weekend! My bluegrass-loving father was collecting on a birthday present: tickets to a massive festival in Raleigh! A highlight was seeing George Banks play banjo.
But on to goals! I did well on my list for September — we hung our curtains (made such a difference!), painted a chalkboard wall (love it already!), planned Kate’s shower (so excited for this weekend!), and celebrated our anniversary (love that man). I STILL have not checked off refinishing our table, which to tell you the truth kind of makes me annoyed at myself. I think this goal intimidates me because I’m not sure how I’m going to get our (very heavy, solid mahogany) table outside, and I’m not sure what I need to do to it once I get it outside. But, it badly needs to get done. So, it’s going on my list of goals… for the third month in a row.
– Refinish dining room table
– Volunteer at our church’s ham biscuit booth at the State Fair
– Deck out our mantel and front steps with fall goodness
– Photograph and post about how + why I use my planner
– Finalize and print our household maintenance tracker
With three trips, two sets of weekend visitors, and a fall to do list, I think that’s quite enough for October.
In other goal-related news, after almost three years, my second 101 in 1001 project has come to an end! I am formulating my thoughts and a post will be forthcoming, but you can check out my final results here.
Friends, what do you have planned for October? I would love to hear!
21 August 2013
There are a few things I hope you’ve picked up after reading this blog for any amount of time: namely, the joy of fiscal responsibility, a deep appreciation for goals of every stripe, and a conviction that donuts are delicious. Also, this:
YES! We are the kind of people who use our wedding china on a daily basis. The people who crack open the letterpress stationery for a quick note. And yes, we are the people who throw adventure dinner parties.
I’ve been reading the blog Oh Happy Day for years, and Jordan is the one who initially introduced me to the idea of an adventure dinner party. As far as I can define it, it’s a meal shared with friends and the trappings of an indoor occasion — table, chairs — on public property. So, a fancy picnic. I was immediately taken with the idea, as I have a deep love for creating memorable experiences for the people I love. I put it on my 101 list almost three years ago, finally checked it off (hooray!!), and would now like to share a few tips I picked up along the way.
1. Choose your location wisely. It must be said: don’t dinner party on someone’s private property unless you have their permission. Duh. Also, don’t break any laws, and I’d suggest not choosing a location that expressly forbids picnicking. In fact, I’d look for a place that DOES encourage it — because really, an adventure dinner party is just an elaborate picnic, so if picnicking is allowed, you should be in the clear. Try also to find a location that has parking close by, since you’ll be hauling a fair amount of stuff from your car. Also, a bathroom, especially if two of your friends are pregnant.
Once you’ve found your location, make a scouting trip before the big day — even if it’s a location you’re familiar with, you’ll see it with new eyes. We chose the NC Museum of Art’s Art Park as our location (we took our engagement photos there). Here I am on our initial scouting trip in our chosen spot:
There was even a path mown to it!
2. Plan a moveable menu. The more food that can be transported and stored at room temperature, the better. Bonus points for anything that packs down tightly and requires few or no utensils. We chose chips and salsa as an “appetizer” (just served them out of the bag and jar, respectively), and Cobb salad as the main course. We brought the pre-washed spinach and arugula in the boxes it came in, and all of the other ingredients — hard boiled eggs, turkey, bacon, tomatoes, avocado, blue cheese, vinaigrette — in mason jars. Guests could assemble as they pleased. We also packed watermelon mint lemonade in Weck jars and fruit skewers in a 9×13 pan with a lid.
3. Make your packing list and check it twice. You’re going to be (kind of) out in the middle of nowhere, so there’s no running back to the kitchen when you realize you forgot plates. Walk through the entire event in advance and make sure you have — and pack — everything you need. Think about clean-up, too. Among other things, we brought mason jars for guests to drink out of (with lids, so that we could just screw the lids on at the end of the meal and not worry about rinsing them or drips), wooden forks, plastic plates (I figured they’d be less likely to blow away than paper), and bug spray. We packed everything in our cooler and my oversize Bean bag.
4. Get the right equipment. Because we could see ourselves doing this again, we bought a tote-able 6-foot table and two folding chairs from Home Depot to supplement the six folding chairs we already owned. Renting would also be an option. So would buying from Craigslist if you leave yourself enough time. We already had a surplus of mason jars, but they’re pretty cheap at Walmart.
5. Invite the right guests. You want people who will relish the experience, and be excited about something different… not think the obscure location and mysterious lead up are a hassle. Guys, I can’t tell you how grateful I am to have friends and a husband who appreciate things like adventure dinner parties!!
6. Have fun with it. You’re creating an experience for your guests, so layer on the fun touches! Keep the location a mystery until the last minute, or text clues in the days leading up to the party. (I’d recommend giving them an estimate of how long it will take to drive to the location, though!) Bring a tablecloth. Send invitations in the mail. Order up a giant balloon to mark your spot. On that note, make sure you have a car large enough to transport said balloon — I have an SUV, and had to fold my seats down to fit it in! It wouldn’t even fit through the doors of our house!! We bought our 36″ balloon from Party City, and it was $6.29 to inflate it with helium.
I modified Amy Moss’s invitation template and had them printed at FedEx Kinkos — so cute!
Post-dinner we loaded everything back into my car, then walked over to the Museum’s outdoor showing of Moonrise Kingdom. We packed dessert boxes for everyone in turquoise berry baskets with cinnamon sugar kettle corn, chocolate chip cookies, brownie bites, and gummy bears :) One other note on food preparation — if there was any dinner party to take food shortcuts on, this is it. All of these goodies were purchased from Whole Foods!
7. Roll with it. The weather. Oh me oh my the weather. There were a plethora of angsty text messages flying between my and John’s phones the day before and the day of our dinner party. Suffice it to say, we didn’t definitively call holding the party outside until about an hour before the arrival time, BUT the weather turned out to be beautiful! We had sun!!
Also, make sure you’re okay with attracting some attention. There were bike riders and walkers moving past our location, and at first I was a little self-conscious, but as soon as everyone arrived they faded into the background. Remember, they’re not judging you, they’re either curious or want to BE you! :)
Finally, be flexible. When we arrived at the park, we discovered that the entire field had been mowed, meaning our private circle was no more. We made a quick decision to relocate under the tree, and it worked out wonderfully.
8. Clean up. Leave your dining room for the night better than you found it. Duh.
Friends, what do you think? Would you host an adventure dinner party? Have you ever purchased a giant balloon? :)
1 August 2013
Welcome to a brand new month, friends! August is here, and it is going to be marvelous!
Blueberry picking at Buckwheat Farm!
July was full and wonderful, capped off by our week long trip to Northern Michigan. Last month we also managed to organize the loft, which serves as a crafting and storage space for my shop. It had been a hot mess since moving day, but no more! Pictures to come soon! We also hung several pieces of art downstairs and have plans for several more. My bike is in the shop for its tune-up as we speak, and last night (squeaking in under the wire!) I submitted my life insurance application. We decided to postpone a rain barrel for the moment — for some reason I was under the impression that we could get one from our town for $10, but it’s actually $85 :(
August is shaping up to be quite busy — it’s traditionally one of the most hectic at work for me, and we’ll also be in New England for ten days. Therefore, my main goal this month is to spend the free time I DO have wisely, and then enjoy each minute to the full! Especially looking forward to lots of family time, boat rides, long walks, and lungfuls of the pine salt air that sings “Maine” to me. A few additional goals:
– Read To Kill a Mockingbird for no. 13 (my favorite book of all time — worth reading over and over!)
– Start the retirement series for Marvelous Money (whoo!)
– Host an adventure dinner party for no. 41 (WHOO!!)
– Help lead a service at the Island for no. 50
– Refinish our dining room table
– Hang our gallery wall!
– Hang our master bedroom curtains
You can see all of my 101 in 1001 goals here and my 2013 daily goals here. If you’d like to share your goals for August, I’d love for you to either list them in the comments or leave a link, and I promise I’ll check them out!
12 July 2013
To wrap up our week of adventures, I thought I’d post some pictures from the spring camping trip we took with some of our bestest friends. Said friends happen to all be professional photographers, so John and I figured it was safe to leave our camera at home :)
We camped at Hanging Rock State Park in Danbury (about two hours from the Triangle), and I can’t recommend it highly enough for a “soft” trip – i.e. if you’re not into the idea of carrying everything you need for the night into the woods. Hanging Rock was wild enough that we felt like we were off the beaten path and beautiful enough to encourage us to hike up steep hills, but civilized enough so that we ate well, could concentrate on enjoying each other’s company, and didn’t have to pee in the woods :)
A few photos, courtesy of Nancy Ray! (And P.S., you can read her blog post here!)
Yep, we brought peonies. That’s how this group rolls.
Fun with friends! Nothing better. If you’re interested in Hanging Rock, John’s also written about it on his blog here!
P.S. By far the most exciting part of our trip was Sam and Graham telling us they are expecting!! December is going to be an exciting month!
1 July 2013
Oh my word, we’re in the second half of the year!
And I feel pretty good about that! I didn’t do particularly well with my June goals (completed about half), so you’ll see many of them on my July list. One thing we did complete — by the skin of our teeth — was the raised bed. We got it in in between two waves of storms on Thursday, finishing after dark. But when we woke up in the morning, it still looked good!
This month I will…
– Organize the loft
– Sharpen knives
- Hang some art downstairs
- Get a rain barrel
- Take our bikes in for a tune-up
- Enroll in life insurance for me (John already has it through his job)
For the rest of my July goals, please see this post :)
You can see all of my 101 in 1001 goals here and my 2013 daily goals here. If you’d like to share your goals for July, I’d love for you to either list them in the comments or leave a link, and I promise I’ll check them out!