February 4, 2012

Fabulous Forty

For a long time I have dreaded this year.  The year I would reach 40.  I am not sure why it seems like such a dreary proposition.  However, I've come to terms with it.  I am not so much into big birthday parties.  As a general rule, I hate them.  But the girls broke me down until it sounded like a fun idea.  I've seen what they are capable of, so even if it wasn't enjoyable, I knew it would be beautiful.

The verse I have claimed for this year is Isaiah 43:18-19.  It turns out it fit the idea of turning 40 rather well.  So it became the theme of this happy shindig.
Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.
You have already see the gorgeous invites.  In case you missed that post you can click over here.

Next, was an afternoon of cutting and folding and stapling to make these party favors.  The idea was to focus on something new springing forth.  Not getting old, but rather a start of something exciting.  That is how the seed idea was born.

There was much debate as to how to do it.  Martha finally settled on these matchbooks.  On the inside of each packet were the planting instructions.  On the outside she printed "Isaiah 43:18-19"  and four different quotes.

Do not regret getting older, it is a privilege denied many.
Aging seems to be the only way to live a long life.
Everyone is as old as their heart.
Age is a high price to pay for maturity.
The colors were pink, green and brown. Kaitlin, Brianna and Emma Rose worked to make everything fit their shabby chic theme.    To bring in the colors more, we opted to go with pink and green paper goods instead of using our china and crystal.  To dress up the paper goods, Brianna designed this logo and then they were printed on brown paper labels and attached to pink and green cups.  They read, "Celebrating 40 amazing years."
Decorations started with a time line of the last forty years.  Which was also a great conversation starter for the guests from different walks of life who enjoyed discussing the events that impacted history in my life time.
This project was inspired by my friend Lisa's walk through history in celebration of her grandmother's 100th birthday.  Brianna brought it to life with, yes, postal paper, twine and scrapbook paper leftover from the invitations.

And here was the dining room.  Which I thought was darling.  It stayed like this for about three weeks, until the flowers gave out.

 Kaitlin made these arrangements using my newest absolutely favorite floral accent, moss on a stick also known as Green Trick.  She  made two identical arrangements for either end of the table using some clippings from some bushes in our yard.  
 But my absolutely very favorite part of the centerpiece was this arrangement in the trifle dish using limes as a base to surround the same flowers and greens from the two side vases.
  I love the whimsical feel the fruit gave the whole thing.
Oh, and then there were the poms.
 The girls are completely crazy over these right now.  
We used dinner sized napkins in two shades of pink and lime green and of course, pink and white striped twine.  Whether it is a holiday, a birthday or a party, we are "do ahead" people.  In the case of the poms we were worried about them getting mashed if we did them before hand.  The night before we popped in a video and folded for two hours.  Even Allen got in on the deal... not because he necessarily wanted to, but a man knows when he's been drafted.  We made some mini ones by cutting the strips in half after they were folded.  Brianna hung these all over the place to add some color accent without a lot of fuss.  They were particularly nice on the chair backs, and the front door, and in a swag above the dessert table.
I don't remember how many we made in all.  But it was a lot.
Instead of being a side note, the girls made the food part of the decoration.  
Check out these gorgeous color coordinated cupcakes.  
And the dessert table
Yes, there are forty candles.  After all, if it is worth doing, it's worth doing right.  Allen made this little chalk board out of an old picture frame.  He cut a piece of ply wood and painted it with chalk board paint.  The frame was spray painted to match the color scheme.  Then Brianna added our theme verse.  The final touch was Emma's pink fabric rose.
We settled on three kinds of cake:  the large center cake was Cappuccino with mocha filling and  cream cheese butter cream icing.  Tending to all the details, Brianna designed the cards to let guests know which cake was which.
  To balance things out the green cupcakes were Coconut fudge with a cream cheese butter cream icing and the pink were a luscious lemon.
To make the food part of the entertainment, and add a touch of elegance, the girls enlisted the older boys to put on white dress shirts shirts and ties to match the party color scheme.  Later they circulated among the guests and served appetizers on silver trays. 
 They looked adorable, were super helpful and had so much fun they keep asking when they can do it again.  My favorite of the appetizers were these veggie cups.
There were also deli pinwheels, bruschetta with crostini, and a large variety of appetizers brought by friends. The most popular of all the food was the cheese board, by far.  In fact,  even though there was lots of seating, no one sat down, because they were always clamoring to get to the cheese.
And, again, with just a little bit of care, the girls turned it into an attractive part of the decoration.  Which almost back fired.  Early in the evening, I noticed a crowd gathered around the piano.  I made my way over to see what was so exciting.  Everyone was discussing the different types of cheese but no one wanted to be the one to cut into it.  I started slicing off bits and handing it around for people to try.  And a whole line of conversation began.  There was very little left at the end of the night.  Days later, people were still talking about the cheese.

Since the boys were working, Emma Rose and her friend Grace volunteered to refill drinks, serve cake and hand out party favors throughout the evening.  Not wanting to be left out, Samuel and Elisabeth asked what they could do.  The girls assigned them to walking around with trays to collect empty dishes and trash.  

The afternoon before the party, the girls held a meeting to go over where everyone should be when.  The boys practiced balancing trays.  And a time line was written out for everyone to consult throughout the evening including what to serve, how it was to be presented and when.  There was a time line constructed for the various activities.  All the planning and organizing really made things go so smooth.  With the exception of the cheese crisis, I didn't do a thing but visit with my guests.  The big girls were free to direct as necessary.

No detail was left unattended.  Entertainment started with a Fabulous Forties playlist Kaitlin put together.
We had guests from many walks of life... church friends, neighbors, family and other special people I've come to love along the way.  To help them all get to know each other and get comfortable, the girls put together this ice breaker.
Yes, we are obsessed with spray paint.  Even the jar the pencils went in was decorated to match the party colors.
While the boys greeted guests at the door and took their coats, Emma and her friend, Gracie, volunteered to hand out the cards and get guests started with the game.  Church friends had to mingle with other neighbors and business friends had to mingle with family to find the answers to a list of questions.  Find someone who served in the military."  or "Find Terri and ask how she met Kathleen."  There were a number of questions about my life and action items to keep things fun and guests moving about such as have your picture taken with someone you did not come with.

The rules were simple but designed to keep people from settling in a corner with the person they came with.  You could only ask one question of each individual.  Some of the answers were on the time line which made for fun conversation as people studied it and started reminiscing with other guests about world events, music, sports and even cars of the last forty years.
I have played many not so fun party games and experienced many not so successful ice breakers.  So I must admit I was nervous about how this would go over.  I was very happy to see how well it worked out.  1-Everyone had fun.  2-People kept moving about the whole evening.  3-People I never expected to pair up, ended up making friends with each other.  Even my dear mother-in-law had a great time and could be found chit chatting with all sorts of new friends.    

Later in the evening, the girls put on a show they have been working on for some time. 
 The skit included lots of audience participation and some guest actors.  
It was a huge hit.  Plus, we had a blast watching them practice in the weeks prior to the party.  I am not allowed to post the video here because our thespians  hope to use it for other audiences some other time and they don't want to give the surprise away.

However, you can see this little itty bit of a teaser here.  And maybe you will inspired to pay us a visit soon.

In preparing for this awesome shindig... the girls informed me that all the rage in social gatherings right now is a photo wall.  Many guests confirmed to me this was indeed the case at Weddings, parties and birthdays.  Well, you know how I love a good picture.  Brianna trekked through Good  Will to find a photo frame and then spray painted it in the green to match the other decorations.  Emma dug in closets and under beds around the house to come up with props in pink.  A corner of the living room was taped off with brown postal paper left over from the invitations and time line.
I was pleasantly surprised at how much fun everyone, even the fellows had with this.  In the ice breaker game, guests were instructed to have their pictures taken with someone they didn't come with.  This made for a lot of mingling and good conversation that wouldn't have happened otherwise.  Take my mother-in-law for instance (sixth picture down on right hand side in purple shirt) she would normally stick just to those few people she knows.  However, after having her photo taken with my friend Donna, she was encouraged to come out of her shell and chit chat.  I intend to print out the photos and include them with my thank you notes.

The only thing that would have been better, but we couldn't figure out how to work it out, was to have someone posted to take pictures as guests came to the wall.  As it was, my camera kept circulating around the party and was hard to find at times, so people took pictures with their cell phones, instead.  Which is great, because it served the purpose of getting guests to mingle and have a good time, however I would love to see those pictures.  Next time, I am thinking about setting up a tripod to make it easier for guests to snap a picture.

I printed these out and, when I finally find time, intend to send them with my thank you notes.  The day after the party, we were shopping and I just happened to come across these little note cards, that just so happened to match the color scheme, perfectly.

When creating the guest list, old friends, new friends, church friends, and family were included.  The girls sent out about 60 invitations.  When the girls were totaling the number of RSVP's to make the shopping list, Allen said wouldn't it be funny if they had 40 guests?  Which of course, would have been neat.  But, let's face it, nearly impossible.  Because you could even try to invite 40 guests, someone isn't going to be able to make it.  And if, by chance, 40 guests RSVP, someone will get sick or have something come up at the last minute or someone else would show up without an RSVP.  So to actually plan for and get just the number of guests you want at such a gathering is impossible.

But not for God.  The night before the party, with a last minute RSVP, the total was 39.  Which I laughed at, because that is awfully close for not trying to hit any certain number.  However, an hour or so before party time we had a very special guest show up all the way from Ohio to celebrate this momentous weekend with me.
And, oh my, what a blast we had, but that is another post.  Thank you, dear Dawn, for making the time and effort to travel all the way out here for little me.  It was a special day, a special weekend and you sure made me feel, well, special.

The kids even matched their gifts and the gift wrap to the colors scheme.  Check out this darling little package wrapped in leftover postal paper and, you guessed it, the pink twine from the invitations.
Emma Rose locked herself away for days putting together this beautiful beaded bracelet with a special little twist.
And Brianna found these rubber gloves that can't help but make you smile at the thought of washing dishes.  Although, I told her they are far too pretty to clean the shower with.  ☺
One of the things I don't like about throwing a party is people feel like they must bring a gift.  Even though we always go out of our way to tell them to please not bring gifts.  But you all know how I love mail and packages and all.
It was super fun to receive lots of special letters and cards from friends all over the country who couldn't make it for the big day.  If you all just knew how special you made me feel!  And how your kind words brought tears of joy to my heart.
 And then there were the packages.  Oh, how I love packages.   And look at this one.  Chocolate covered strawberries.  Who knew you could mail such a thing to someone?  We enjoyed these for breakfast the next day.
 And a basket of local goodies.
I must admit, the creativity of our friends when choosing gifts to send completely touched and amazed me.

And so not only did everything look terrific, and taste delicious, we had an amazingly fun time.  I thought it was fun.  The girls thought it was fun.  And if that doesn't convince you, even my mother-in-law, thought it was fun.  Weeks later, friends were still commenting on what a great night it was.  And to me that is the mark of a successful party.

Top moments in pictures
1.  My boys dressed up so handsomely bearing trays of appetizers... especially the veggie cups.  Which I adore and will use again.

2.  Three girls who totally immerse themselves into weeks of plans and work to celebrate for me.  I am so unworthy of such love and devotion.  I am so blessed.  
3.  This wonderful surprise.  Again, I must say, I am completely unworthy of such wonderful friends.    But I sure am grateful for you, dear one.

4.  I have to agree with the guests on this one... the cheese board is incredible and no party would be complete without one.

5.  Watching friends from so many different walks of life come together in one place and get to know each other and have a really fun time together.  I was so blessed to watch the interaction of everyone else.

6.  Oh, my word!  The girls skit.  It was so hilarious.  So sorry for those of you who missed it.

7.  All the emails and letters and beautiful words sent by friends and compile into a video by my girls.  Although, I do think it was rather rat-like to show it in front of everyone so I had to keep from crying. 

8.  Having two of my very best long time friends here with me.

9.  Having my three Dawns here all at one time.  I can not believe I did not get a picture of them all together!  What a numb skull am I?
10.  Cake... not only was it beautiful, it tasted so good.

Oh, who knew getting older could feel so good?  Planning, executing and celebrating.  It was all a blast and, while everyone, both far and near, had a part, I mostly need to thank the three amazing girls the dear Lord has blessed me with.  Thank you, not just for a wonderful occasion, but for all the ways you bless my life and the lives of all those around you.


  1. I love how your family (especially Martha) go all out for these things. I'm still fawning over those lovely decorations. It inspires me to do the same for my mother. :)
    The one time we did do something especially big for her, was when we completely surprised her (a very hard task, I assure you :D) with a baby shower for Ava. Don't ask me how we pulled it off at the ages of 8 and 10. I have yet to figure out. :)


    1. Dear Bree,

      I can assure you that your dear Mama would be touched beyond belief if you made such efforts for her. I know that I am still in awe over the hard work and dedication they put into it... especially because I really didn't want to make a big deal out of it. But it was so much fun, I am trying to think of another great reason to throw a party. My girls threw baby showers for me at different times. It was so cute. Once when I was expecting Aedan, they were 11 and 7, they got their Pa to get some groceries and decorations and then he was to keep me upstairs while they made a baby shower in the playroom. They probably don't even remember it but I will never forget. When I was expecting Elisabeth they organized my dearest friends and (with their Pa's help) arranged to reserve our favorite little tea shop for an afternoon. Special memories for sure.


      Mrs. W

  2. My mouth is watering right now, seeing all of that scrumptious looking food!! :D
    You just had to tease all of us people who weren't at the party with this post didn't you? ;) Now I want Nana & KK to do a party for me. :D


    1. Hi, Stephanie.

      Well, perhaps next time you have an event coming up you can drop the girls and email and they can virtually plan your party? But you might want to watch what you ask for, their ideas always end up costing way more than I intended to spend. ☺


      Mrs. W

    2. Stephanie...just let me know... :}

  3. Happy Fortieth! I am hitting 35 this year, and I can't wait for 40! You will have to share your secrets for aging so beautifully!

    1. Joanna,

      I couldn't find your email. But in reply to your comment I wanted to say:

      Wow! Where does the time go? It seems like we were just watching you cut that wedding cake! The Lord sure has blessed your years with your precious Mackenzie! She reminds me of a little four year old around here.

      I am so glad to see you around Art's Chili Pepper.

      I would love for you to bring your darling to play with Elisabeth. I think they would get along well! Thank you for your sweet comment. When pressed I say, I am blessed with good genes, my kids keep me feeling young and just in case there is my Avon Anew. LOL. Truly, laugh, love the Lord, don't be easily offended and quickly forgive, that's the best advice I have to offer on aging.



  4. What a gorgeous birthday celebration...from the littlest details to the big pictures, the entire thing was beautifully done. Happy belated birthday!

    1. Oh, thank you sweet friend. I miss you! I do hope you and yours are well. Email me an update when you have some time.