27 October 2014

The day we made 2014 Halloween Fun! (Year 2)

[Ryan and I dressed up for Halloween]

Before you ask, there is no year 1. We had a party on year 1, but there was no blog about it.  Exactly a year ago I found out my old boss sold his practice.  I put blogging on hold while I looked for a new job (especially since I blogged about work a lot, and I knew it was a bit unprofessional...)

Here are some of my favorite photos from our first annual Halloween party:

And now for year 2.  We had a house now, so it had to be super legit.  We sent out "save the dates" because we wanted to get the date out there so people would be sure to plan activities on other nights and come to our party. 

Here's the save-the-date.  I needed this picture for the party.


Although, our pic from last year was way better:

After getting the word out, we decided on a theme and some Trivia.  Trivia always pulls a party together.  Plus, you get to give out cool prizes, and I don't know about you, but I love winning things. 

And I also gave out some lame-o prizes for 2nd place to encourage people to try harder and win next year so they don't have to win a sorry 2nd place prize. 

Then we decided on some entertainment aspects of the party.  Clearly, entertainment starts with some beverages: I decided to make my signature sangria, because that's my favorite.  I picked a fall sangria and adapted the recipe a bit:

Base: 3 cups Trader Joe's White boxed wine (a white Chardonnay)
Juice: 2 cup Trader Joe's Unfiltered Apple Cider
          1 cup Trader Joe's Sparkling Water

1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon (super finely ground Cinnamon) 
1 Honeycrisp apple
1/4 pear
2 Shots of Brandy

I threw this all in a pitcher and then put extra wine, juice, and chopped fruit in the fridge.  That made it super easy to "Refill" the sangria through the party. 

I made an ENAB (Equally attractive non-alcoholic beverage) by using the recipe above, but subbing in 2 cups of sparkling grape juice, also found at Trader Joe's.  Just in case you have any friends that are pregnant, or nursing, or designated drivers, or prefer not to drink.  Gotta be a good hostess.

On to games: We learned early on that Trivia is a crowd favorite.  People love to prove that they know the most useless, trivial details about certain subjects.  This year's trivia centered on Halloween and Disney (gotta stick with a theme).  I created it in my down-time, and tested it against Ryan.  He got about half right.  You have to walk a fine line between "Hard" and "Impossible" because you want people to have fun, but you only want one winner.

This year we passed out a 1 page (front/back) paper of trivia questions.  Everyone was in teams of 2.  We called out the questions and answers. 

The winners clearly spent a lot of time watching the Disney channel and Disney movies.  They were 2 girls in their early-20s.  They got 21/25 questions correct.  The person closest behind them only had 18/25 questions right.  I was pretty impressed with the skill level of trivia participants.  If I had to do trivia again, we would probably try to hook up the TV like we did last year, because in the end, that was a lot more fun then having me call out all the trivia questions.  We just didn't have enough room around the TV this year.

We also wanted some "lawn games" people could do outside so we could maximize our time in the beautiful Texas Fall weather.  Also, its fun to play mindless yard games as you mingle. It gets extra fun as the night gets later and people have to play in the dark.

We owned no lawn games.  So we turned to friends to see what we could borrow.  We were able to borrow cornhole (bean bag toss), ladder golf, and a circular saw.

We used the circular saw to cut some 2x4s into Giant Jenga pieces.  And by we, I mean Ryan.

Ryan did a fantastic job cutting.  And then did an even more fantastic (and labor-intensive) job sanding.  We thought about painting the pieces, but in the end we ran out of time and I worried about the colors being stacked in a terrible pattern because it would hurt my head.  

While Ryan cut, I painted.  And made costumes.

We decided to be Beauty and the Beast.  I already had a gold corset.  And I knew how to sew.  We just had to buy some fabric, a wolf mask, and a blazer for Ryan.  I found the blazer for 10 dollars.  


I made the skirt and a shirt to sit under the corset.  And I added gold to Ryan's jacket.

And then I got crazy.  I found a "gravestone" for 2 dollars at Wal-Mart so I turned it into Cogsworth.  And then I wanted a Lumiere. (which was almost a candelabra with skulls on it painted gold, but I was worried the skulls would make it look lame)  And The Rose.

I stopped just short of looking for a Mrs. Potts and Chip.  They just felt too difficult to re-create.

I did paint a beautiful sign for the front:

So, that's entertainment and costumes, now onto decor!

I saw a scary shower-curtain at Michaels when I was looking for a candle or candelabra to play Lumiere. I also found a scary picture.  I added some blood to a towel.

I hope no one freaked out. I didn't notice anyone passed out in the bathroom, so I guess that's a good sign.

We had a bunch of decor left over from last year, which we gladly re-used.

I painted pumpkins:

We dressed up! We made costumes mandatory, and they had to follow a Disney theme. I have a few ideas for next year already!

Fun was had by all!

We had a lot of fantastic costumes.  I tried to get photos of everyone, but we hit a point around 7:30 when we were grilling meat, greeting guests, and getting ready for Trivia where I got lost with the photos.  We did get a fantastic group photo, which was awesome!

The winner was Tonto from The Lone Ranger.  We gave 2nd place to the Polar Bear because well, it was a cool costume.  It would have been awesome if Disney owned Coke like they own Marvel and ESPN.

Whew!  Next year we will buy more ice, start the grill a bit sooner, and start the party a little bit later.  No one, even the parents with young kids, came right at 4.  

Our neighbors pulled together costumes in 2 hours and brought us ice, which was awesome!  They also made us baby Jenga pieces decorated for display! Super cute!

If you haven't picked out a costume for Friday, get moving. Or start planning ahead for next year! And it's not too late to throw your own Halloween party next weekend :)

24 October 2014

The day I jumped the antipoles!

Historically, October has been a great month for me when it comes to jumping off of dangerous things.

Exactly 3 years ago I was on the other side of the earth, jumping dangerously close to my death.  Literally, very close.

Here's a picture of where I jumped in.  If you look really close in the background, you can see some other fools jumping in. Its called Devil's Pool.  Its on the side of Victoria Falls (only in the Dry Season), in Zambia, one of the 7 wonders of the world.  I mean, there was a tour guide we paid 50 dollars assuring me it was safe.  But logically, it was not. 

Then, 3 years later I was on the EXACT other side of the world jumping into another pool.  Well, a bath.  The Queen's Bath to be exact.  

And when I say EXACT other side of the world, I do mean exact.  

Be forewarned-I'm about to get pretty nerdy here:

Hawaii is the only state in the United States that sits directly opposite of land if you're looking at the earth as a sphere.  Think North Pole being exactly opposite of the South Pole. That's an antipole.

(if you need more clarification, this is the best explaination I could find https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/antipoles-other-side-world/id507963431?mt=8 )

The Antipole of Hawaii sits on the corner of Nambia and Botswana, in southern Africa.  Victoria Falls sits on the border of Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.  That's pretty close to the antipole.

Boom. You just got some geography lessons mixed in with fun facts.  Gotta love it.

Tune in Next week for the latest blog I've been working on: The day we made Halloween fun.  Complete with costumes and decor! You won't want to miss that blog :)

07 October 2014

The days we have almost no photos of.

[we have awesome puppy-sitters. You can't tell how happy our pups actually are. They love dress up and they love going to our puppy-sitter's house. If you need a good sitter, let me know and I'll give you their name!]


Another morning we watched the waves. When you get up at 5 or 6 am you can hear the waves really well because there are no people or cars. It's easy to get out of bed for the beautiful views and noises. It's also easier to wake up at 6:30 Hawaii time when its 11:30 am in Dallas time. I feel so well rested!  


We went snorkeling. I wish I had pictures for you, it was beautiful. There were so many colorful fish! We got some video, so if we're able to pull photos off of it, we will!

I really want to show you photos of this, so I hope to update this post next week sometime!

Ryan stayed home to rest his back and I stayed home to write. We did way too much the day before and I needed to write about it and nap. And a few hours of TV.

The Covingtons went boogie boarding for 3 hours. Then we all went to happy hour and we had a huge plate of nachos. It was awesome. And by awesome, I mean delicious. 

[a fun happy hour spot]



We came home and watched the sun set. We met a funny fellow named Everett He told us about a delicious restaurant on the Big Island that we needed to try that had a macadamia nut pie that was "almost, almost as good as sex."

[our new friend]

Note: our friends tried it and disagreed.


He talked about how much he loved crackers with his chowder.

He also told us he was on his 5th glass of alcohol, and he was being quite generous with his glass sizes.


Then we played Mini Golf. I would love to say I killed it at mini golf. And I did on the first 9. But not on the back 9.  Amberlee came back to win by 3 points by the end of the game. We'll have to have a rematch!

There was one hole where Jonathan and Amberlee both lost their goofballs multiple times in the water trap. I couldn't stop laughing!


We ate dinner at 9 or something that night. It was delicious!

[Dinner: salmon and salad]


Then Ryan and I stayed up to watch We Are The Millers. Interesting movie. We finally fell asleep.



We rolled out of bed and ate breakfast at a little cafe we found last week on Sunday. 

It was, as expected, delicious again.

On the way home we saw a rainbow.

The healthy people (Ryan, Jonathan, and Amberlee) went on a walk. I stayed home to sit on my bum and write. 


When we shopped at Costco early on we got snack foods: popcorn, chips and salsa, grapes, and crystal lite iced tea. 

We finished the salsa in 2 days and had to go back for more!

The popcorn went fast too. 

I found this photo on Pinterest and immediately I wanted to do it!

[tubing as it looks on Pinterest, note it looks quite different in reality]

Look how fun and relaxing that looks! 

Mountain cave tubbing. Another activity I don't have photos for Thurs
until we pull them off the GoPro underwater camera.  

Around the 1850s they built all these irrigation canals to help grow sugar cane. The crop did really well until the 1960s when Hawaii became a state and got labor laws, making it much more expensive to produce sugar. The sugar industry pretty much moved to Central and South America.

Now there's just these empty canals that go through caves that you can ride down the mountain.

They give you gloves to touch the walls of the caves. Helmets with lights on them. 

They made us go through the last cave with zero light, which was pretty awesome.

But just know if you sign up for the "3 hour" trip, you spend only 45 minutes on the river, about 45 minutes on bumpy roads and taking photos, 30 minutes getting a helmet and listening to rules, and 60 minutes making your own picnic lunch and feeding cats your leftovers.

I fed the cat my water out of the water bottle cap. It drank the water immediately. It was a skinny cat but not too skinny. Apparently it hangs out at the picnic tables every day and gets plenty of table scraps. Sorry I have no photos for you, but you're probably already picturing a cat in your head that looks exactly like my mountain cat. 

Again, if we get some cool photos I'll share them!

We ate dinner at The Beach House. The food was delicious, but the sunset was the best. We really enjoyed it!

[another pretty sunset]


Then, to walk off the large amount of food in our tummies, we played mini golf again. I played so poorly! Clearly I do way better before a big meal. Really, I think I just do better when I put less pressure on myself and relax.


Then we played another game of Sorry! We learned there's a fun way to play it with strategy instead of just luck. You each have 5 cards and play them one at a time (drawing a new card when you play one). It was quite fun!


Again, we fell asleep. This time I didn't want to go to bed because I didn't want to wake up the next day and leave.