My best college friend Christi just achieved - ahem - a major milestone. I missed her 80's themed Austin shindig but made up for it by helping her mom throw her a second, Cowtown-centric get-together the weekend after her birthday. Okay, technically she grew up in Crowley, and now her parents live in Burleson, but both towns are Cowtown-adjacent - and her parents still raise racehorses, so we had a barn to work with, inspiring the cowgirl theme. But this is Christi - my bright, sunny friend who, like me, is easily distracted by shiny objects - so "cowgirl" became "rhinestone cowgirl," which also tied into the seventies as the era of her birth. Color palette had to include burnt orange (she's a UT grad and huge UT sports fan), bright yellow (to match her kitchen and personality) and red (her favorite color, if she had to pick just one), and I threw in some hot pink for good measure. Also a must (in addition to some sparklies): a little bit of funkiness, in honor of (1) her adopted Austin home and (2) her love of kitsch. She comes by that love honestly: thanks to her dad, and the THREE jukeboxes that he keeps in the rec room, the iPod full of seventies and eighties tunes that I brought along "just in case" never made it out of the monogrammed oilcloth bag. The kids, in particular, had a blast grooving to the jukebox - that is, when they weren't fishing in the stockpond, riding horses or driving the golf cart through the pasture. Wondering when Connor will be old enough to take over the mantle of family party planner (I know that he'll be up for it eventually), so that MOM can take a turn driving the golf cart. Because it always looks like loads of fun.
Anyway . . . entertainment was covered (see above), and food was a no-brainer as well. Barbecue, fried okra, the usual condiments, and I made a metric ton of potato salad the night before, and a couple of batches of barbecued beans the day of. And cupcakes - lots and lots of cupcakes. To justify cupcake toppers. We also had Black Forest cake from the Swiss Pastry Shop - kind of a go-to dessert with our crowd, particularly given that Christi's childhood friend Hans runs the place - and was a party guest.
That's Hans posing with the cake, and the birthday girl, above. I should say "one of the cakes," because there were two. Always best to have a back-up.
Remind me to tell you about my spouse transporting a Swiss Pastry Shop BF cake to Houston for our wedding rehearsal dinner, packed on dry ice. And about the ten minutes I spent crying in the bathroom at said rehearsal dinner because my husband-to-be was too busy worrying about the cake, and getting it to the restaurant, to fully engage in the rehearsal, and then he spent the first few minutes of the rehearsal dinner POSING WITH THE CAKE, and THEN - seconds after being presented with the thoughtful and sentimental wedding gift that I had lovingly picked out for him - he confessed that he forgot my present at the hotel, on account of all of the excitement about THE DAMNED CAKE.
But I digress. Hans: you make a great cake, and it inspires a loyal following.
Decor-wise, I didn't have much of a cohesive plan going in, because we weren't sure whether the weather would cooperate, and thus weather we would set up inside or outside. (Due to wind issues, we ended up doing food indoors, but folks congregated both places.) Basically, I decorated a bunch of random stuff and figured that we would pull it together the day of. I started with a hat:
Zebra-striped blingy longhorn hat ornament started out as a pendant; I broke it at some point but held on to it. Used it to decorate a cheap straw hat from Wal-Mart (this one, actually) as part of my Sue Ellen Ewing Halloween costume last year. The kids had sort of mangled the hat, so I manipulated it back into shape and then painted the heck out of it. Then I added another hat - zebra, to match the first one. I also picked up several bandanas to put - wherever - as well as several yards of a black and hot pink batik fabric (clearance aisle at JoAnn) that was bandana-ish and tied in the black in the zebra stripes.
Then I painted a "Longhorn Princess" canvas for Christi (with hot pink stripes around the sides, not shown):
And a second canvas for people to sign with a Sharpie at the party - like a permanent birthday card.
This tin planter was in the craft closet - I painted it burnt orange and added glass jewels to it. At some point, I remembered the orange-and-pink dotted table runner (okay, actually it fell out of the sideboard and landed on me.)
Bought zebra-striped cupcake liners and made cupcake toppers out of circles of bright-colored scrapbook paper, backed in black, and accented with these really cool mulberry paper flowers (with the addition of rhinestones in the centers):
The paper flowers also made an appearance on a scrapbook that I decorated as part of Christi's birthday present (forming the "4" in "40" on the front - you can see the scrapbook in the background in the picture below).
I spent quite a bit of time making bandana bunting flags - which you can barely see in the pic below, snapped by one of the guys. Didn't have time to take a better one. I had planned on stringing them between the barn and the fence or trees, but because of the aforementioned wind, we ended up hanging them high and tight.
Christi's momma had a lime green tablecloth already out in the kitchen, and after we decided that food needed to be indoors I flipped over the table runner (which - happy coincidence - had green rick rack on the other side) and threw together a little tableau:
I think that it's a hallmark of a successful party to have a basket of koozies sitting out. I'm just sayin'.
My yard art longhorn did go outside, since he's made of metal and, therefore, was pretty wind-impervious.
Christi's daughter graciously dressed to match the party decor:
While the adults ate, drank and toasted the birthday girl, the kids had fun on the golf cart (which ended up becoming a shuttle to and from the stock pond, where some fishing was going on).
The little ones also took turns riding horses. Here's my youngest in the saddle:
And my sweet big boy taking Allison (with supervision, of course) for a ride:
Connor also enjoyed serenading The King in the jukebox room. If that IS The King - it's like the artist imagined Thin Elvis in the Fat Elvis jumpsuit. Personally, I see a distinct resemblance to Adam Lambert.
In case you were wondering, the B side to Right Said Fred's "I'm Too Sexy" is . . . "I'm Too Sexy." If was any dispute that they were a one-hit wonder. . . .
All in all, it was a good day: the birthday girl got caught up with old friends, much cake was consumed (and, to my husband's delight, a big chunk o' Black Forest came home with us), and the storm clouds that you can see collecting in one of the horse pics stayed away until well after the party had come to an end.
Happy birthday, Christi!