Every year- I think- since my sophomore year of college (so like… seven years. sheesh, that makes me feel old) a group of kindred spirits including myself, have gathered for what we dubbed a “roadtrip.”
Technically, it was only a road trip for those of us who, you know, drove somewhere. But every year it is magical and lovely and thoroughly soul-filling.
* These black and white photos featuring an excessively attractive group of ladies were generously supplied by our resident fancy-schmancy photographer, Kara.
This year was no different. Except that this time, I actually planned and organized the way a real, live hostess might do for a girls weekend.
It’s possible that I may have been a little obsessed with the sheer funity (as in fun…ity) of the concept a girls weekend anyway, ever since I read this post from The Nester.
I mean, seriously… Look at one of the pictures from her post:
Can you blame me?
After I first read this post last spring, a seed was planted in me, which found the fullness of its flourishing throughout most of the month of April… and all of May… leading up to the event itself.
What I love about The Nester’s post is the sort of guidelines she shared about how to enjoy hosting people and cultivate a no-stress atmosphere. Isn’t it the worst when you are positively bubbling with anticipation for some party you’re hosting, and then are so preoccupied with the details and the agenda that the enjoyment is sucked out of it?
So, along with being inspired by the sheer prettiness of her pictures, her tips helped me gear up for the weekend, without becoming a joy-sucking perfectionist. Here are the ones I found most helpful:
1. decide on a theme based on something general or an overall feeling-
Our theme, as decided by myself, was- wait for it- Pretty Comfy Coffee Togetherness Weekend. Pretty much genius, right? It was the first thing that came to me, and I loved it. If you visit The Nester’s post about this topic, you’ll probably notice some similarities in the types of decor and theme choices I made; so if you think it’s a rip off of her stuff, then it probably is.
I have no shame in that, because she brilliant, and why reinvent the wheel? And as far as picking a “theme” goes, I love this quote from her:
LOVE for my home to look festive, pulled together and extra special when I have a get together but, I learned long ago not to try to come up with some elaborate theme, although having a general theme or purpose can be helpful. When I hosted my sister’s book signing party the theme was simply book pages. This time I wanted the theme or feel of the weekend to be girly, fun, and relaxing. That doesn’t mean we all have to bring our ball gowns and bring in a manicurist and masseuse to come for the weekend. Oh no. When you choose a theme you want it to be something that will be a workhorse for you, not something you have to be a slave for. I used a few five-minute ideas that quickly added some whimsical girliness into my house.
2. decorate with inexpensive yet WOW factor ideas- Ok. The Nester’s WOW factor decorations were on a whole different level of WOW than mine. Plus, her idea of a “five-minute idea” is my idea of a five-hour idea. So, for my two-bedroom apartment, and my limited resources I decided to focus on a couple simple spots for decor and do things I a) could actually do and b) would actually do:
* The entryway- By “entryway” I here mean “the entrance to our apartment” which consists of like, 3 steps. STILL. I wanted some WOW and I wanted it right when they walked in the front door…
So, obviously, I went with giant pink poms and white lanterns. (The lanterns were left over from Lu’s 1st birthday party, the poms were from Party City- $12.) Then I added some white tulle Ikea curtains (intended to be hung in Lucy’s nursery… that hasn’t happened yet) and some random other pink tulle that my mom gave me, and voila!
To me, it’s like a fairy princess welcoming you to a magical realm with beautiful, long, tulle-Ikea-curtain sleeves. If the girls had been like, “Gee, I wonder what the theme is?” They would’ve just looked at the pinkness and frillyness and figured, “Oh. It’s clearly Pretty-Comfy-Coffee-Togetherness.”
You should’ve seen me trying to put it up. Hanging things is not my specialty. But I figured command hooks were elementary enough… And they would’ve been, had I not initially purchased outdoor command hooks, which did NOT stick to my drywall. This, children, is why you read things like labels.
* The Guest Bathroom- I wanted it to be lovely, girly, and welcoming… but also practical. I mean, four women were going to share it. This is not the place to use up valuable counter space with lots of tchotchkes. (Is that how you spell that word???) That said, I still had a couple things I wanted in there, since I didn’t have time to hang things that I’d originally planned to.
Those paper muffin cups and me? We fell in love at first sight. I knew I had to use them for something fun, and though there were muffins, these were used for mini-makeup-goodie bags instead, using some fabulous, extra Mary Kay products I had.
I also made these pretty spiffy little cards on picmonkey.com (it’s free, people!!! so fun. so much funity.)
You might think these were supposed to be- I don’t know- name tags, or something… However, I decided their purpose was just to be pretty. And I decided to draw tea cups on them. The crazy thing was, each person TOTALLY picked the one I thought they would… Epic.
3. cook something I’ve made before and only cook for the first meal and also make a few things ahead of time
I sort of did this… Mostly what I took away from it was to keep it as simple and yummy as possible. So, I created a general menu, which I ran by the girls for approval and/or edits, and then just kind of went with it once they all got here, because of #4…
4. say yes when someone offers help- I like to think I took this tip, and helped it become the greatest version of itself. By straight up asking for help. Because people, I have a baby, and I’m not the type of woman that likes to do absolutely everything, especially when it comes to cooking (as my husband can tell you). It’s just not one of my strengths. Really, as long as there were muffins, I knew everything else would be perfect. And oh, the muffins.
… Kara made them and they were SOOO good. So good, in fact, that I’m leaving the recipe for them down at the bottom of this post. There was a lot of other deliciousness going on, too…
Healthy pasta. Also made by Kara. She made a lot of food, actually… We all pitched in at varying points, but I seem to remember a lot of work as far as actual food prepping and making goes being done by Kara and Heather. (THANK YOU, ladies. Just in case I hadn’t already said it 8 million times.)
Homemade goat cheese & turkey bacon pizza with pineapple and red onion on honey wheat crust. This one I did make. BAM.
5. enjoy the people when they are here and don’t worry about cleaning every part of the kitchen to perfection–I can do that when they leave
It’s so true, right! I mean, some cleaning had to be done at times, because well, the kitchen is visible from 75% of the rest of our apartment. But my goal was that I would neither clean obsessively, nor obsess over cleaning. I didn’t want the honored guests to feel like that was a bigger priority than enjoying the rare and precious opportunity of just being together.
6. Keep a loose hold on your agenda. Plans are good, but not when they hijack the fun(ity).- This tip is my own. (I think… though I’m sure it is not original.) There have been some roadtrips where we did something really wonderful and memorable- like the very first one when we went to Symphony on the Prairie and heard the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra play Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons. And there are general things we love to do, like go to local coffee shops (or just Starbucks- we’re not picky). For example- for the second year in a row we all went to Cavu Coffee (aka my happy place).
*These 3 photos also generously supplied by my exceedingly talented friend, Kara, who is a fancy-schmancy photographer, in case you didn’t click the link the first time.
I also had everyone bring 5 “favorite things” to share with the group:
But mostly, we like to drink copious amounts of coffee and tea, eat dark chocolate, and talk. We talk life, catching up, job stuff, etc. But even more than that, we (is there a non-cheesy way to say this?) soul-talk. It’s something we desperately need, as people, as friends, and especially as artists.
*I’m not posting the link to Kara’s page again. Just scroll up for like, a second, and click one of the other links to her page I’ve already posted! Gosh, you are just so demanding sometimes…
Maybe an articulate way to explain it is what The Nester says about her girls weekend:
And of course it’s impossible to capture the very best part of the entire weekend. The real connections, risky sharing, tears, laughter, vulnerability, and true friendship that continues to grow.
Of course, we may also have watched the 7 hour long BBC Pride & Prejudice, too… But even watching that together takes on a beauty all its own. For my part, I plan on volunteering to host next year too… because you know, then I don’t have to go anywhere. And also, I do love those poms.
Do you love hosting stuff? Do you have pretty pictures??? I want to see them!