Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Favorite Things Party

I hosted a super fun Favorite Things Party last week!

I've read about Favorite Thing Parties before and have always wanted to host one, but I wasn't quite sure about how to organize one for a decent sized group of people! 

I reached out to Julie (who wrote the first blog I ever read) on instagram, because she had posted about a party she hosted for a group of women. She was super sweet and gave me some great tips and ideas!

So, here's the gist:

  • Each guest thinks of something she loves or is super useful to her. 
  • She brings 4 of the same thing that costs between $5-7. So, each person is spending between $20-28. 
  • She comes to the party with her unwrapped favorite thing.
  • Each guest talks about her favorite thing, why she likes it, where she got it, etc., and gives out 4 of her favorite thing to 4 different people.
  • Eat treats and hang out!
Here's how it played out at my house!

As each guest arrived, they got a little packet:

There are 4 slips of paper and a list of favorite things. Each guest wrote her name on the slips of paper and put them in a bowl. Then, she filled out her list of favorite things that varied from favorite animal, favorite Winter Olympic event, favorite vacation spot, etc.

Once everyone filled out their papers, we got settled into the living room for the exchange! I actually didn't take any pictures during the evening, because I was busy enjoying the people!

Not everybody knew each other, so we started out by going around the circle and having everyone say her name and one of her favorite things from the list. 

I got us started by sharing about my favorite thing (these cutie little scissors to keep in my purse and a couple of these pens) and then drew 4 names out of the bowl. If I would have drawn the same person's name twice, I'd put the duplicate name back in the bowl and redraw! That happened a few times, and it was no big deal.

Julie recommended that as a person's name was drawn, she could share one of her favorite things from the list. This slowed down the drawing in a good way and kept it from feeling like a raffle. It was also a fun way for people to find out things they had in common!

Leah, Maggie, and Gracie hung out in the living room and Maggie kept an adorable Favorite Things Data Table! She couldn't be any cuter!

And, of course there were snacks! I served hummus, pretzel thins, and carrots, raspberry white chocolate cheesecake, and some addictive popcorn that Becca made!

And, yeah, I bought flowers at Aldi for the evening! I walk past the flowers all the time but picked some up this time because I thought they'd add something spring-y! I got the flowers 5 days ago and they're still going strong.

Steph helped me decorate sugar cookies as a party favor!

I packaged them up 2 to a bag, and then forgot to hand them out to the first several people who left. Oops :) And, yes, they are even yummier than they look!

So, wanna see what I got?

  • The Angry Mama: Yeah, I almost bought this for Aaron for Christmas, but, yeah, I came to my senses and realized that The Angry Mama isn't on the top of the gift list for any man. I can't wait to try this out!
  • Candy and Poo-Pourri: OK, I think poo-pourri is equal party hilarious and practical! The giver of the poo-pourri got it at Menards not Amazon, so I'd imagine it was cheaper!
  • Adorable Tiny Spatulas: Oh my gosh, I love the little spatulas for scraping things out of cans and bowls. These are dishwasher safe which I love even more!
  • Password Sign: I can't wait to put this up in our guest room! Super practical and cute!
  • Tiny Scissors and Sharpie Pens: Yep, that's what I brought. I mean, is it just me, or do find that you fairly often just need a scissors when you're out and about?
The Favorite Things Party made for such a fun evening! I feel like we need something fun to spice up our dark, cold Iowa winter, and this was just the thing! I can't wait to host another one next winter!

Oh, and here are three of my legit, absolute favorites:

Love those girlies of mine!

Have a great week!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Door County Restaurants

I'm Door County's newest, biggest fan! 

We had the best time! We had great weather, and we went early enough in the season that nothing was very busy. I've realized that while I am a "people person," I am crowd averse. I don't like have to wait 20 minutes for a table at a restaurant (especially with the girls) and I don't like feeling like I'm in people's way. This time of year was perfect for us!

I really appreciated all of the recommendations we got from our friends to help us plan our trip, so I wanted to compile all of the things we enjoyed into one spot...which will turn into more like 3 spots, so this won't be the longest post known to man.

Here's the short version:
  • We ate at both Wild Tomato locations (once for supper, once for lunch) and loved it! Definitely the best food we had all week!
  • We ate at PC Junction for supper one evening, and it was so fun! Totally a mom and pop place where a little train brings you your food. The food was just okay, but I don't think you go there for the food. The food carrying train is the main draw. Plus, they had a super fun play area outside! Even though the food wasn't great, it's totally worth going if you have kids.
  • We ate at Al Johnson's Swedish Restaurant (also known as the restaurant with goats on the roof) for lunch and had breakfast food. It was good but not great.
  • We ate ice cream at three places: Not Licked Yet, Wilson's, and Grumpy's. Not Licked Yet actually served custard and had fun popsicles. It's located on a little creek and had a great playground. Wilson's absolutely lived up to the hype...so good! We enjoyed Grumpy's which was really close to our hotel.
Now, the long version with pictures!
Wild Tomato was seriously amazing! We ate supper at the Fish Creek location on our first evening. If I'm comparing the locations to each other, I liked the atmosphere in Sister Bay better than the one in Fish Creek; it was just brighter.

But, at the Fish Creek location, they gave the girls little containers of pizza dough to play with! Both places have the very cool water bottles, though!

The pizza was excellent at both locations! We had an awesome bread basket at the Fish Creek location for an appetizer. There were several different breads and three dips. The herbed goat cheese was phenomenal! I'd eat anything if it had that goat cheese on it! Leah liked it until she found out it was goat cheese, but I told her it stood for Greatest Of All Time. Believe it or not, I don't know that she bought it :)

We had artichoke dip with focaccia bread for our appetizer at lunch at the Sister Bay location. The dip was great, but the bread was just okay. As a food nerd, it seemed to me like they rushed the rise on the bread, because it didn't have a good crumb or chew to it. <---see, that was nerdy.

I had an awesome salad both times! Goat cheese, dried cherries, and maple roasted walnuts with a cherry vinaigrette. I'm working on a copycat recipe and am almost there on the dressing!

The Sister Bay location is right by the beach, so it worked out really well to have lunch and then go play on the beach! The Fish Creek location is right by the entrance to Peninsula State Park and just down the road from Not Licked Yet.

The service was fine at both locations. We didn't have to wait and our servers brought us what we needed, when we needed it. I wouldn't necessarily say they were friendly or cheerful, but I also don't go to a restaurant to become friends with a server.

Eating at Wild Tomato is a must in my book!

Like I mentioned above, PC Junction is super fun! The servers/conductors seemed happy and cheerful. The food was so-so, but that's not the point of going there. Our girls aren't train enthusiasts by any stretch of the imagination, but they had so much fun! The outside play area was seriously awesome!

Al Johnson's was good, but I don't know that I could fully appreciate all of the Swedish/Norwegian-ness of it. If my family had a high Swedish or Norwegian cultural identity, I'm sure I would have seen a lot of things that reminded me of my grandma's house, but that's not the case for me. 

I had Swedish Pancakes with the best Door County cherry topping! We all had breakfast food and enjoyed it. Our waitress seemed rushed, though. 

It was really fun to see the goats on the roof, though! I accidentally took this very artistic picture of a roof goat:

That's not edited and there isn't a filter! I mean, it's like a glowing goat!

And, we can't forget this framer:

Leah was in on the joke :)

We'd heard that Wilson's is THE place for ice cream and it was SO good! It was actually pretty busy on a Tuesday afternoon in early June, so I can't imagine how busy it would be on a weekend in July! The had regular flavors, but some fun ones, too! I had lemon cheesecake ice cream...soooo good! Plus, they put a jelly bean on the bottom of each ice cream cone which the girls thought was awesome! Aaron got their root beer and said it was some of the best he'd ever had!

Not Licked Yet was delicious, too! I had an Arnold Palmer popsicle which was so refreshing and delicious! Their playground area was super fun, plus we enjoyed the evening on the edge of the river!

There are ice cream shops literally everywhere! The closest one to our hotel was Grumpy's (no picture though). They served Cedar Crest ice cream and it was good! Not quite the level of the other two, but, I mean...it's ice cream! It's good! Plus, the inside was really cute. It was an easy walk to the waterfront to watch a beautiful sunset!

I'll be back (hopefully) soon to talk about what we did!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Observers Gotta Observe: Water Park Edition

Aaron is usually the only one privy to my slightly snarky water park observations, but I decided to share these with you!  I believe the word you are looking for is lucky.  ;)

1.  Rough Start
When I first go into a water park, it is so loud and overstimulating!  Once we were at one and it was "party night!" or something like that.  So, in addition to the sounds of splashing water, fans, and happy children, there was bumping dance music.  I felt like I was in my own personal, overstimulated hell.  But, then I got used to it and it was all good :)

2.  Cautionary Tale of Tattoos
I understand the appeal of tattoos.  I get that it's a way to mark important life events, share creativity, or tell a story/testimony.  I'm just saying it might be a good idea to go to a water park in case you are considering any of the following:
  • a large oak tree in your cleavage with a skull sporting pig tails on the side
  • barbed wire with a dangling dream catcher or two on your upper arm
  • haunted house on the shoulder
  • flaming infinity sign on your back
  • rosary necklace around the neck
What looks good on a firm 18 year old body, might not look so great on the "40 year old and I've had a few too many beers body" or the "30 something had some babies body."  Just make sure you'll like it when you look different or will have the confidence not to care if your tattoo gets a bit wonky.  Also, go ahead and get those tats touched up; put it in the budget!

3.  Defined Water Park Personalities
Our daughters have very defined water park personalities!
  • Leah is the "watch me!" kid.  She's always coming up with fun tricks, jumps, and handstands, and spins for us to watch.
  • Maggie is the hot tub kid.  She gets cold really easily, so she likes to spend lots of time in the hot tub!  
  • Gracie is the water slide kid.  She will go up and down a water slide literally 20 times in a row.  Those stairs are quite a workout!  
4.  I saw a guy who looked like Buddy Garrity on the lazy river.
It wasn't him.

5.  Cell phone usage
Almost every time we're at an indoor water park, I see someone talking on a cell phone.  I can barely hear myself think, so I'm always slightly impressed that they can hear someone on a phone.  I'm also impressed by the risk takers using their cell phones in the hot tub...whether or not it's in a ziplock bag.

6.  About the hot tub...
Let's keep it PG, playahs.  Moving on...

7.  Camo isn't just for the Army/hunting/Capture the Flag anymore
A couple years ago, the bridal store downtown had camo prom dresses in the display window.  Then, I actually saw a girl wearing one with a blaze orange sash/belt, naturally.  And it wasn't the army camo, it was the kind that has branches and leaves on it.  

Fast forward to the camo swimming suits I saw.  I felt that the military-esque camo swimming trunks were anticipated, but the mom wearing a branch and leaves camo tankini with coordinating skirt was a bit unexpected.  

8.  I like that lots of water parks have life jackets.
It puts my mind at ease when I can't spot the girls right away.

9.  Lifeguards rule
I was a lifeguard back in the day...way back in the day.  I'm here to tell you that lifeguarding is as boring as heck, except when you are pulling someone out of the water, and then you're adrenaline is going crazy!  I like watching the lifeguards scan the water and walk back and forth to the areas that would be blind spots if they weren't checking.  It seems like it helps keep the guards alert.  Lifeguards win!

10.  I like that the girls especially like water parks
I like that they play so nicely together.  I think it's especially sweet, too, that after they tire of the slides, they play imagination games with each other in the regular pool part!

Do you have any random water park observations?  Do share!

Also, are indoor water parks a midwest thing, or are they all over?

Happy Monday!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Everyday Happy: January 8th-14th, 2016

It's been a good week around here!  And, although I have yet to pack a box, I have thrown a lot of stuff away, so that's always a plus, right?  I feel like Gracie and I will be able to pack up some games and rarely used kitchen items today, though!

January 8

Enjoying scones and Downton Abbey with my favorite person!

January 9

We had a super fun Saturday in Madison!  We met some friends for lunch, hung out at the Children's Museum, looked around inside the capitol and stopped at Trader Joe's!  The girls were so impressed with how fancy the capitol was!

January 10

Yeah, that's the Vikings game we are subjecting our children to watching.  I always feel bad for the kicker, especially when he misses an easy one!

January 11

This is what after school is like at our house!  At the beginning of the school year, I've had the girls bring their folders and papers to the table where we have a snack together.  I look through the papers right away and get rid of whatever I'm not saving.  I enter dates on the calendar right away, too.  I feel like it's really helped me keep on top of things!

January 12

I started reading the girls The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe!  We're really enjoying it!  I've never read any of the Chronicles of Narnia, so it's been fun for me, too.  I find that the girls do better listening to a chapter book if they are doing something with their hands, although Gracie did wander off (thankfully not into a wardrobe)...

January 13

We went to Menards to look at some flooring and found these fine Darth Vader shower heads.  I'm sure we can all agree that we would get much cleaner using one ;)

January 14

Maggie got 3rd place in the fire prevention poster contest, but it was for the Kindergarten category.  There was some sort of mix up, and her poster got in the wrong pile, but she handled it well!

Have a great weekend!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Update Time!

I think that I blog in dog years.  

For example, way back on September 13th, I said, "Later this week, I'll share more about this truly amazing group of people that God has put together."

Yeah, that was a long time ago!

But, I've decided to rev the ol' blog back up.  I really do feel like this is going to be a big year for our family, and it's important to me that I capture all of that.

So, at long last, here are the people in our church plant's core group.  I could really go on and on about them all, but I'll keep it brief :)  Be sure to stick around to the end; I'll update you on when we are moving and all of those fun details!

Our partners are Brandon and Hannah:

Brandon is going to be the preacher.  He's compelling to listen to and his love for Jesus and the Gospel oozes out when he speaks.  He's also really good at techie things like computers and sound equipment...you know, things with lots of knobs that are intimidating to the rest of us.  Aaron and Brandon work really well together and their skills compliment the other very well.  They share a high level of trust and unity.

Hannah can organize and administrate anything.  She is hospitable, anticipates the needs of others, incredibly helpful, intentional, and a great mom and friend. Hannah helps me understand Maggie and offers a lot of wisdom to how I can mother Maggie well.  She is also super pregnant with baby #2 (a boy).  She is facing a lot of big life changes this year and is doing so like a champ!

Their daughter, Emma, is almost two and is obviously adorable.  She is super friendly and always brings a smile.  Gracie is one of her favorite people :)

Ryan and Becca:

Ryan has one of those smart guy analyst jobs that I don't really understand, but, he's not nerdy...for real! He's great at putting together small group Bible studies and leads them well.  He consistently works at building relationships with others even if it takes him out of his comfort zone.  He's very well thought out AND loves the NBA, so you can see how both of those things make him good friends with Aaron :)

Becca is a gather.  She is the quintessential girls' night hostess and loves having people in their home.  Becca has a lot of interpersonal energy and is so friendly and welcoming.  She is super fun and caring and has a game for any situation.  She loves Jesus and those around her so well.  She teaches 5th grade and is well loved by her students and co-workers...and pretty much everyone who knows her!  

Andy and Steph:

Andy is a phenomenal graphic designer.  He designed our church's website (which I will post when everyone on the core team has announced that they are moving), and it's incredible.  Andy is fun and funny.  He is a reader and is well informed on things that are going on around him.  Andy always sees the good people and is adored by our girls...particularly Gracie.  He's also a Vikings fan which Aaron enjoys :)

Steph is a great question asker and listener.  She has a soft heart towards Jesus and the people around her.  Steph is really creative and crafty and has happily organized areas of my home that are prone to disaster (hall closet, I'm looking at you).  Steph sees things that need to be done or people who need to be cared for and she just steps in and quietly takes care of it...task or person.  

We have another couple who are a part of our core team, but haven't told their employers that they are moving yet, so I won't spoil that online :)

Plus, BONUS, our friends Mike and Jen are joining us!

Mike and Jen have been married for a little over a year, and Mike just got an engineer-y job in Dubuque.  Jen works at a cupcake shop which is pretty much the most fun job I can imagine!  Mike and Jen are fun and hospitable and generous.  They love building community with those around them and are great at taking initiative.  Plus, they are wonderful with the girls!  We were so excited when they moved to Dubuque!

Soooooooooooo, what's going on with us?  We sold our house to our friends, Drew and Sam.  We didn't even need a realtor!  Shortly after we announced we were moving to Dubuque, Sam facebook messaged me and asked about talking about buying our house.  She and Drew looked at it a couple of times, and we worked out a deal.  We closed at the end of October.

We are currently renting the house from Drew and Sam.  They have been so generous to allow us to do that!  There's a mortgage rule that the owners have to occupy the house 60 days after closing, so we need to move out at the end of January.

Enter our neighbors, John and Margaret.  They are retired and go to Florida for 2 months in the winter.  They offered to let us live in their house while they are gone!  We will move into their house for the next month.

We close on our house in Dubuque on February 22nd.  We had an accepted offer at the beginning of October!  The couple we are buying the house from is buying a house from people who are going through an acrimonious divorce and they were pretty inflexible with their closing date, so it pushed things back for all of us.

Aaron and my dad are putting in new floors, plus we are getting a wall out and doing a lot of painting before we move in.  We will move the big stuff on February 27th and the girls will start school on February 29th.

We are excited about where we are going to live!  It's about a 3 block walk to the elementary school and middle school (they share property with each other).  It's also about a 3 minute drive to Aldi, so that's a win in my book :)  We love that it's totally in a neighborhood and we've heard that there are lots of kids around.  

Needless to say, we really see God going before us and making a way!

And THAT'S what's new with us!  Hopefully it won't be several dog years before another update :)

Friday, January 8, 2016

Everyday Happy: January 1-7, 2016

I'm jumping back into taking a picture every day!  I decided to call it Everyday Happy, purposely using "everyday" as one word.  Everyday basically means regular.  And, while I certainly don't think that everything in life makes us happy all the time, I do think that the happy little bits of the everyday in our every day are worth noticing!

January 1

We celebrated New Year's Eve the afternoon of New Year's Day.  Gracie was really feeling the party :)

January 2

Gracie loves grapefruit without sugar sprinkled on top.  Pretty impressive for a 5 year old in my book!

January 3

Singing songs for Sunday School (say that 5 times fast :))

January 4

Such a sunshiney day definitely called for some matching shades :)

January 5

I started going through Maggie and Gracie's room...some pre-packing organization, if you will :)  It always looks worse before it looks better!

January 6

Gracie and Emma hanging out in a box, like friends do.

January 7

Some fun imaginative play on a Thursday night!

Have a great weekend!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Morrows on the Move!

Well, friends, in case you haven't heard the news, we are moving!

It's been several years in the making, but in early 2016, Aaron, the girls, and I will be moving to Dubuque, Iowa to start a church!

This is obviously a huge transition for our family with lots of details currently settled in the "unknown" column.  In case you were wondering, I'm one of those people who prefers details to permanently reside in the "well planned" column.  

But, even though some things are kind of up in the air, namely selling our house and buying a new one, I'm really, really excited!  The girls have gotten used to the idea and are inching towards being excited, but I wouldn't say they are there yet.  And that's normal and okay!  Aaron and I have had several years to think about and get ready for this but the girls just found out at the end of the summer. A move, even a close move like this one, really does send a child's world into some sort of upheaval.  

If you are someone who sees Leah, Maggie, or Gracie, I think it would be best if you let them bring up the move with you as they are ready.  

'Even though this is an adventure that Aaron and I are excited to take, it is certainly bittersweet.  We love our life here.  We love our friends and our neighborhood and our home and our kids' schools and our church and the fact that we are 7 minutes from anything in town.  

But, we trust that seeing as this is something God has made clear that He wants us to do, we know that He will be caring for us and giving us strength as we go.  

We also aren't doing this alone!  We have partners and a team of people moving with us.  Later this week, I'll share more about this truly amazing group of people that God has put together.

While many people have heard this news from us personally, it still feels kind of awkward to just drop it like a bombshell.  But I figured that I just needed to get it out there so I can write about it.  This is something I want to be able to look back on and see how Jesus has grown us and sustained us.  Plus, I hope that YOU are encouraged and challenged by our story.

So, BOOM!  There it is.  We are on the move...