Except for brief periods for sleeping, personal grooming and wardrobe changes, I was at Ridglea Country Club from 8 am on Friday morning until midnight on Saturday. I ate five consecutive meals there. (I highly recommend the new Green Goddess Salad with the wine-poached shrimp.)
First on the agenda: Reading Rocks. As this year's featured children's book author, Joe Hayes, hails from Santa Fe and pulls his inspiration from folk tales and tall tales from the Southwestern US and Mexico, Friend Robyn and I knew that we needed to take the decor in that direction, but it took us a little bit to figure out how to put a child-friendly spin on "Southwestern." In the end, though, I think we nailed it.
It helps that we have crazy friends who respond to random Facebook appeals from yours truly with messages like, "Well, yes, I do happen to have a taxidermied coyote, and also an animatronic horse. Would you like to borrow both of them?"
Yes, please. Here is said coyote watching over various craft supplies (yes, tortillas can constitute craft supplies - keep reading):
It also helped that I had a (very sweet) connection at the Doss Center in Weatherford, who got me on the radar of the Center's Board of Directors. Once upon a time, the Doss put on a wonderful summer program that allowed kids to play pretend as Texas settlers. Seriously, it was really neat, almost like a live-action problem-solving exercise: like real settlers, the participants had to vote where to establish their settlement, how to deal with the neighboring Native American tribes, and so on. Really hope that they bring the program back, but in the meantime, they have a lot of Texana in the basement that is not in everyday use. And so it was that Spouse (darling, long-suffering Spouse) got to drive out to Parker County (hey, he had a hearing in Weatherford, anyway), retrieve a ranch truck and fetch, among other items, two old washtubs, a saddle, several cowhides, a buffalo hides, kerosene lanterns, spurs, branding irons, et cetera, et cetera, ad nauseam.
Saved us a bunch of money, and it really lent an air of authenticity to things (not that we didn't ultimately whimsy everything up). We scored a couple of borrowed tipis from other sources, which meant we only had to rent one larger tipi and two fiberglass horses.
This is one of the fiberglass horses. He, too, can be yours for the day, for the low, low price of $125.
On a personal note, Robyn and I appreciated the opportunity to cross "install ginormous fiberglass horses in the Ridglea lobby" off of our shared bucket list. (We put the second ginormous horse under the photos of all of the past Club presidents.)
My favorite horse, though, was the sweet furry boy that moved when his motion sensor tripped:
Okay, not going to lie - kind of enjoyed watching the kids (and their moms) jump when he moved his head or tail.
More tipi action:
The little tabletop tipis for Friday night's cocktail reception were my responsibility:
Whereas getting the wooden cacti cut and painted was all Robyn:
Aren't they adorable? She can tell you the paint color, if you are interested. I only remember that it was Martha Stewart, because I remember thinking that it was funny to be using Martha Stewart paint on a free-standing wooden cactus.
More wooden cacti below. We split up the decoupaging and "cactus fluffing" duties. (Cactus fluffing. That's an ironic phrase.)
To vary the look (we didn't want all saguaro), we made round cacti out of green paper garden lanterns, using silk fringe (purchased on clearance) for "needles."
We also worked my paper patchwork books into various arrangements. See, it really broke my heart to cut up books - even if those books were purchased from the Half Price Books clearance aisle (meaning that they were on their last legs). So in the spirit of using every part of the buffalo, I turned the book covers into prop books.
The "RR" stands for Reading Rocks - or Robyn Rogers. Depends on who you ask.
By the way, I call the photo above "Still Life with Decoupaged Book, Kerosene Lantern, Horse Tail and Kathryn's Drained Margarita Glass." (The margaritas at the cocktail reception were killer - and free-flowing. They sustained me after nine hours on my feet.)
One more photo of cacti and stuff:
(Click on the image to enlarge it and get the full effect.)
We also recruited local muralists to create their interpretations of Mr. Hayes' stories. So glad that one of them chose the gum-chewing rattler:
Also glad that a team of table decorators did a gum-chewing rattler table, because I really had good intentions to paint one of the cacti pink, cover it with bubble gum and drape it with rattlesnakes, but I ran out of steam. Here's a few shots of their table:
Other table decorators got the Joe Hayes memo as well:
I purchased a copy of the book in the bottom image - The Day It Snowed Tortillas - and had it autographed for the boys. Along with the gum cactus, Robyn and I had good intentions about cutting snowflakes out of tortillas and suspending them from fishing line over the Central Market tortilla-making demonstration. However, hanging them proved to be an obstacle (also an obstacle: cutting the darn things out), and we were good just to get the truckload of papel picado banners that I ordered from San Antonio hung from the ceiling. So we made do with a couple of vase arrangements that ultimately found their way onto the bar behind the breakfast buffet:
All in all, we were pleased with what we accomplished. The event itself turned out great, and pack-down after the event proved seamless, which was a good thing, because the Junior Woman's Club social committee needed to get in to set up for JWC's formal dance, and Robyn and I (as the immediate past social chair and twice-removed club president, respectively) did NOT want to be impediments. Been there, done that, you know? Also, Robyn was in charge of the silent auction for that event, so basically we took a break to eat lunch (Ridglea meal #4!), recruited the help of a certain twelve year-old (whose father and brother were busy returning Western kitsch to parts west) and, along with Robyn's mom (who was also a TREMENDOUS help on Friday) knocked out the auction tables.
All in a weekend's work. And, no, I do not want to decorate for your event. Going back to lawyering and mothering for a good long while! But I will continue to trickle out kids' party themes culled from this year's Reading Rocks tables . . . . There were some GREAT ones.