#MyBestFriendsWedding Chapter 7 Meets #TravelTuesdays – Nola Bach Weekend Activities

You guys know by now that I can write for days on end, but this entry will be three Harry Potter books-long if I don’t reel myself in. So I’m diving right into the day-by-day itinerary of the bachelorette I planned for my biff Michelle. Buckle up!

*If you want a version of the plain hourly itinerary without my schpeal, here you go!*

Thursday, March 1st: Arrivals, Set-up, Welcome! 

I flew out early on Thursday morning to set up the apartment. Vanessa (Michelle’s future SIL) and her friend Stephanie were also flying in early for a meeting with a client, and Ashtine (bridal party) would land in the afternoon. The bride and the rest of the crew would arrive at night.  I headed to our HomeAway rental (Michelle wanted us all together, so a hotel was not really an option) as soon as I landed – this place was kind of a miracle find after endless searches on AirBnB, VRBO, etc. because 1. It’s a newly built condo (in an old building), 2. The location is PERFECT, near Bourbon and Frenchmen but not in the midst of the party craze and 3. The price was about half of what all other rentals in the area. MIRACLE I tell you! Stephanie put together the welcome boxes for the girls before heading out to her meeting, and I had a light lunch at Cafe Envie right across the street while I waited for Ashtine to arrive. Once she landed, she came with me to the nearest Walmart (the one on Tchoupitulas, which has a full Liquor Store inside) to stock up on supplies for the apartment. I’ll link you to my shopping list, which includes some things I forgot (since I’m not a coffee drinker, I forgot about the cream and sugar, but there was some in the apartment thankfully). I ordered Uber Eats from Louisiana Pizza Kitchen to have at the apartment waiting while we got the girls at the airport. Caro had this awesome idea to get picked up at the airport in a party bus, so we booked with Luxe Limousine, and our driver Darrow was AWESOME! He was there early, and even accommodated our request to stop for a drink right before dropping us off. Thanks Darrow! Once we got to the apartment, we quickly changed, ate, and headed out to party on Bourbon! The best stop of the night was undoubtedly Cats Meow, which is always a great time with nostalgia-driven karaoke, and consistently great MCs running the show! We even got on stage for a rendition of single ladies 😉

 

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Friday, March 2nd: NON-STOP Activities! 

We started off our morning with light breakfast in the apartment from our shopping spree the day before, and we had planned to do the Panty Line Poem (an activity where all in attendance get a pair of underwear that celebrates a specific milestone for the bride/couple, and goes with a poem) for Michelle at this time. We caught her totally off guard and she absolutely loved it! Then, we headed to what would probably be the most memorable meal of the whole trip (and I knew it would be) – Atchafalaya. I came here during my first trip to Nola back in 2014, and it was my first meal priority for the bach. Their largest table accommodates 12 and we were 13 so they split us in side by side tables, but it was totally fine and WORTH IT. Try the grits. Just trust me. Then, we headed to the Gray Line Original Walking Cocktail Tour, which was a very informative and fun walk around hidden gems of the French Quarter with so much history and great boozy drinks! The group got to try Absinthe, Sazeracs, Sidecars (my personal favorite), Hurricanes (the good kind, stay away from the Pat O’Brien’s blend!), and more! After the tour we headed back to the apartment to get ready for the nighttime activity: Drag Show! Now I have to say, on the website, they advertised a Diva Royale “Real Housewives of New Orleans” show which I thought would be so much fun for the group, but they called us earlier in the day to let us know that they were merging the show with the guys from Hunk-O-Mania… aka male strippers. Basically, we were REALLY going to have a bachelorette now! Ha! One of the things Michelle was VERY clear about from the beginning was: no strippers. I knew it and I was 100% down to comply, but it just so happened that things took a turn (for our benefit) and so we just rolled with it. When we got to Mags 940 (the bar where the show is hosted), I was approached by the owner of the drag show to ask if we wanted to put Michelle in the hot seat. I said it was fine as long as Michelle was only in a drag segment and not with a male stripper. They totally respected our wishes and Michelle had an awesome experience on stage with a gorgeous, funny and great queen. The rest of the brides in attendance got the full Hunk-O-Mania treatment and we had A LOT of fun watching it, but Michelle (or her fiance) definitely would not have been ok with that lol! The show ran late and we were INCREDIBLY late for our dinner reservation at Three Muses, but they were SUPER accommodating and texted us through the show and accepted our rescheduling needs and OMG the food was BEYOND delicious. This was the one place I had not tried, and it was so so good. They also don’t take parties bigger than eight, so we had to split into two tables again, but it was fine/worth it. Michelle and a few other girls kept the party going down Frenchmen Street and that was that for Friday!

 

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Saturday, March 3rd: Sisters, Beignets & Aphrodisiacs! 

During my first trip to Nola in 2014, I had Sunday brunch at the Court of Two Sisters. I remember it being delicious and a great overall experience, so when it came time to do the bachelorette itinerary, it was a no-brainer for me to host a brunch here (and I really wanted it to be a full-on floral brunch outside in the courtyard, with the live jazz band! The whole nine…) but upon doing my research this time around, it seemed the service and the food quality and variety had dramatically worsened since that visit. They were receiving really harsh reviews and it seemed their best days were behind them. I battled between doing Commander’s Palace, Brennans, Cafe Amelie, and many other brunch spots but for some reason (floral courtyard jazz!) my heart was set on the Court. Fortunately, I kept checking reviews and they seemed to be improving closer to the trip, so I pulled the trigger and made the reservation. The said they couldn’t guarantee courtyard seating but they made it happen and it was GORGEOUS. We couldn’t have asked for better weather that entire weekend, and the brunch was simply whimsically beautiful AND delicious. Everyone loved the food and gave rave reviews to everything, except the gumbo, not that it was bad but they simply had a MUCH better version at Three Muses the night before. That’s still a 99% overall, so I’ll take it! After the court, I set up the itinerary to give us time to walk around, try Cafe Du Monde/Cafe Beignet, visit the French Market, and have a lax afternoon until our 4:00pm Aphrodisiac Tour from Witches Brew Tours. Now, I can’t remember where I found this and they’ve remodeled their website since I first found the info, but this tour was awesome. Our tour guide Marillyn was just a delight, so funny and knowledgeable and she had a blast with our group. She gave us background stories on aphrodisiacs and then took us to experience them first-hand – chocolates from Sucré, hot sauces from the Pepper Palace, a quick look at toys and other fun items at Mr. Binky’s Boutique, oyster shooters from honestly I can’t remember where, and if you’re up for it, you can also fit in a quick visit to a Voodoo shop just as a learning experience. Again, can’t say enough good things about Marillyn, totally made our last afternoon in Nola a memorable fun one! And finally, for our last Nawlins supper, I booked us dinner at Criollo, inside the Monteleone hotel, so we could fit in a quick visit to the Carousel Bar. I told the girls from before the trip not to get excited about the bar as it’s IMPOSSIBLE to get a seat on it, no matter the time of the day, so they knew it was more of a picture opp than anything else. To our huge surprise/delight/amazement, because of our party size, the Criollo staff welcomed us in one of their private rooms. We felt like the Real Housewives of all the cities rolled into one, getting such VIP treatment! It really was the perfect closing to the trip. We actually sang happy birthday to Michelle here because her birthday was coming up that following week, so we took advantage to get the festivities started. After this awesome dinner, we headed out to enjoy our last night experiencing all that Bourbon had to offer, and then we made our way back to the apartment for a few hours of sleep, and back home we all went!

 

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I hope you enjoyed my endless recount of this weekend that I will forever cherish as I hope Michelle and the rest of the girls do. New Orleans is a very fun city, not for everyone, but it’s definitely a top choice destination for bachelor/bachelorette parties because of their chill party scene, yummy food (seriously, you have to make an effort to find bad food in Nola), and cheap drinks!

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Making It vs. Buying It… What Gives?

The “why buy it for $7 when you can make it for $92 worth of craft supplies?” meme runs my life. I have a very hard time just buying something when I KNOW I can totally make it myself and it will turn out almost identical to the original. The satisfaction of seeing something made by me next to something that is produced elsewhere is so tempting, that I find myself having a dilemma on a weekly (if not daily) basis. “But isn’t it more expensive when you have to buy all the supplies and you probably won’t use all of it?” you say?? Nonsense.

My most recent and blatant example of the ridiculous journey I was about to embark on to make something instead of buying it was for my best friend’s bachelorette that I’m planning. The destination for the bach is New Orleans. Woot! What’s synonymous with Nola? Masks. Should I buy them? Honestly, even if I found really cheap masks, like at Walmart, they’re still not cheap enough to include in the bundle of items I’m making for the girls, and it’s a hard expense to justify. While browsing Pinterest for inspiration, I came across a pin that listed very easy instructions on how to make a mask with just puffy paint and tulle! Ooooooooo! Jackpot! What could be easier than making a mask out of puffy paint? In this particular instance, the paint and tulle I’d need would actually probably come out cheaper than buying the masks anywhere, so that part of the plan was solid. What wasn’t so solid was the amount of time it would take me to make the masks, which I was ultimately ok with, but after making one and trying it on, I knew there was a fundamental problem with them: puffy paint stretches, but only so much… I knew the masks would last 2.5 seconds before one of the ends snapped, and I didn’t want to be all proud and mighty giving the girls things I’d made myself, only to have them fall apart on Bourbon five minutes into the night. This is what the project was looking like:

After 3 puffy paint masks, I decided to take a look at Ali Express, and hoped to find something extremely cheap that would surpass the flimsiness of the puffy paint mask structure. Surprisingly, it didn’t take long to find really cute lace masks for really, really cheap. Like under $0.60 each cheap. I thought about it for all of 6 seconds when I immediately decided that in this case, buying was a no-brainer. My saving grace through this process was also that I began planning this practically before my friend even got engaged, so I’ve been doing things with plenty of time, and I didn’t have a problem placing an order for items that would take about a month to come in from abroad. With shipping, 13 masks came out to $11.04 dollars! Yes, all of them! TOTAL! I know.

Absolute steal, absolutely worth it, and unquestionably cheaper than buying all the materials you’d need to make the mask, which if you didn’t own, you’d need:

  • Big tube of Puffy Paint
  • Tulle
  • Parchment paper
  • Printout model of mask
  • Clips
  • Ribbon

As a crafter, I did of course have all those things in hand, so my expense to make the masks would’ve technically been zero, but realistically, that money had already been spent, and in this case, the outcome wouldn’t have been equal to or superior to the purchased product.

Today, buying wins!

Carlos’ 60th Birthday Cuban Musical Props

My best friend’s father-in-law to be just turned 60 years old this past weekend! What a milestone, and such a beautiful number. I am very fond of the 60th birthday because while doing some research when I was planning my mom’s 60th turn around the sun (shh, please don’t tell her I mentioned that number, anyone who puts her over 35 goes on a kill list! haha!) I found out that in Chinese culture, the 60th birthday is sort of a re-birth. 12 x 5 = 60, and that means that by the time you turn 60, you’ve done a full life cycle around all the signs (and sub-types) in the Chinese Zodiac, so it’s a new beginning. Anyway, I digress…

For Carlos, one of the things he has most fun doing is dancing, and since he’s Cuban, salsa is probably at the top of his favorite genres. His birthday was a perfect moment to go all out, celebrate his Cuban heritage and the music he enjoys so much. Check out the props & banner I was asked to make for the occasion!

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Some bongos, maracas and musical notes represented the hobby and genre he loves so much! The fedoras & cigar were a nod to his Cuban heritage and style!

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Rhymes and banners, nothing is… smarter? 😉

The birthday boy danced the night away and all the guests took turns posing with the props. Cheers to Carlos’ 60 Years!

Halloween 2017 DIY – Two On The Run Costumes & Winter Is Here!

You know I’m ALL about the DIY life for Halloween costumes. Do you remember this one? I’m still super proud of those two costumes, but this year was a whole new ball game, on a much tighter deadline.

My bff wanted to keep it simple but cute, so she decided she wanted to be a unicorn, but like the chillest unicorn ever. Horn from amazon, and a shirt by yours truly that said “I’m a unicorn, DUH” for anyone who dared ask. Done.

Her sister went shopping for one idea, and changed her mind during the shopping trip. She came to me with a yellow shirt and some felt and wanted me to turn her into a pineapple. Done.

Cut up the shirt. Drew the peaks. Made a crown out of felt, a headband and some poster board scraps.

I had been thinking about my costume for a while, but decided to pull the trigger the week of Halloween. My red hair was finally in its full glory, and my Game of Thrones fever was (is!) as strong as ever. I also just happened to have a burgundy statement necklace and a newfound love for makeup. Melisandre, you’re up. DONE!

Red hair? Owned. Necklace? Owned. Makeup? Owned. Robe? $12 on Amazon.

And that’s all folks! Another DIY Halloween in the books. Start preparing early for 2018, for the night is dark and full of terrors and you don’t want to show up in the same costume as everyone else…

Liana’s Fabulous #BubblyForBubsie NYC Bachelorette Props

What do you do when you’re going on a bachelorette with your group of closest friends? Lots of things, but if you’re me… You. Make. Props!

One of my really close friends, Liana, is tying the knot at the end of the month and so we’re going all out with the “last fling before the ring,” all the way to one of her favorite places: New York City. Her sister and Maid of Honor, Katrina, very kindly requested I made some props for the big weekend, and of course I was very excited to make this set, being for such an amazing friend and what was promising to be a super fun weekend. The color scheme of some of the bach items was pink and gold, so I knew I’d stick to that for the props. Without further ado, some pics of the set (I forgot to do my semi professional set-up before leaving, so the pictures aren’t that great. Also, we barely got to use the props because of the back-to-back schedule we committed to haha! #BachLife

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The props were a surprise for Liana, and when she saw them she said she may be biased, but this was her favorite set I’ve ever made! I’ll take that type of bias any day 😉 Happy wedding my dear friend!

Winter Is Here – A Proper Game Of Thrones Watch Party (**Minor Spoilers!**)

Up until last year, I wasn’t interested in Game of Thrones or any of the events that came to be on the show (#RedWedding), but with all the social media ruckus about Mr. Jon Snow, it peaked my curiosity just enough to watch the first episode of season 6 to find out whether or not he’d make it through… Except that, as avid watchers know, we don’t get an answer until the last moments of episode 2. By this point, a few other interesting things had happened, and let’s just say I’d found a new favorite thing to do with my Sundays at 9pm. I watched the rest of season 6 without any prior knowledge, something that came in handy with the episode “The Door,” because while everyone was distraught mourning the death of one of their favorite characters, I wasn’t anywhere near the level of attachment everyone had built over the prior 56 episodes. #HoldTheDoor crisis averted.

Needless to say, I was hooked but also a little lost – as much as I picked up on things, there’s way too much ground covered in 5 seasons that cannot be deduced during 10 episodes, especially not on this show. But I also didn’t want to get hooked… So, I let months go by until I couldn’t wait any longer and I finally binged seasons one through five in a week, then re-watched season 6, feeling the proper things we’re all meant to feel (#RedWeddingVictim)… and this brings us to yesterday.

7.16. The date that has been tattooed on our brains for months as we anxiously awaited season 7 (not to mention it started at a later date and coming with less episodes than any prior season… see, it’s like I’ve been here from day 1!), and this time I was on time and part of the gang! I had been victimized by George R. R. Martin, David Benioff and Dan Weiss along with millions of others, and I was ready to continue being a masochist, but I wanted to do it in style. Thanking the old gods and the new for Pinterest, see below my Night’s Watch approved watch-party, which I must start by saying I was not willing to spend any money on. Everything you’re about to see was whipped up from items I already owned. I know, I’m a crafter and not everyone has these things handy, but I’m proud to say the only money I spent specifically on this party was a grand total of $6.40.

It all started with an Iron Throne

But then when I placed the throne against my TV station, it looked weird. It needed a better backdrop. So…

I wanted to make a banner with all the house banners, but once I was done with it, it was longer than just half of the TV station… more red fabric, to the rescue! (FYI this is where I spent my $6.40, printing the banners!)

And the whole shebang –

Some other details –

I had all of this planned out and then one of my friends who was coming to the party suggested we make shirts for ourselves. You know I don’t need to be asked twice…

And what I think was THE BEST decor item EVER, and will forever be grateful to Pinterest for providing this amazing idea –

That’s all folks! Hope you enjoyed seeing this watch party come to life 🙂 I’ll leave the decor up for the remainder of season 7. Have you done something like this for your own watch parties? Any ideas for upcoming episodes? Let me know in the comments below!

 

#MyBestFriendsWedding Chapter 4: She Said YES to The Dress!

Shortest “blog” post ever! Just had to celebrate the fact that after three stores and 16 dresses, my best friend found her wedding dress today! I was ecstatic to be a part of this day for her, and of course I had to make special props for it 🙂

 

Stay tuned to see the pictures of the dress and the process after her big day in late March of 2018!