Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Golden Anniversary

My grandparents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in July.  My mom, uncle, and I plotted to throw them a great surprise party to celebrate them.  I volunteered for decorations because I loveeeeee that sort of thing.  Unfortunately, this was in their wood paneled church fellowship hall without any natural light so my pictures all look really dull.  

I saw several examples of numbers covered with pictures on Pinterest, so I sneaked (I hate that word even though it is grammatically correct.  I still say snuck.) into their home while they were in Alaska and got about sixty pictures of them and got black and white copies made.  I wish I had three more because the top of the "0" really bugs me. I cut out poster board into the shapes that I wanted, then taped the pictures on the poster board with double-sided tape.  I then cut around the pictures.  If you are just doing one number, or if it's in your home, you could just tape the pictures to the wall, but I knew I wouldn't have time for that on the morning of the party.  It's a good thing I didn't because these numbers are now hanging up in their house haha.

I used a lot of spray paint for this day.  I spray painted the welcome sign, the "S" and "50", and all of the vases.  The spray paint and primer sticks fairly well, but if you let it touch another painted surface, the paint peels off.  Some of my vases touched each other during the commute, and small pieces peeled off.  

I made a guestbook on Walmart.com and had it printed there.  I used a calculator online to calculate how many days, minutes, seconds they had been married and used those numbers to tell a story about them in the book.  Guests enjoyed looking at all the old pictures and writing them a message in the back.

I cut out little circles out of tissue paper to scatter on the table as well. 

My mom had the cake made and it turned out beautifully!! So did all of the cupcakes. 

I printed out little signs out of card stock and folded them to label the cupcakes. 

I bought some plain white labels and designed them using Microsoft Word.  I filled little party bags full of gold candy and left them at each seat. I used Werthers, Snickers, Twix, and Rolos. 

I spray painted the mason jars with glitter spray paint and the regular vases (that I purchased at the Dollar Tree) with the gold paint and primer.  

I then filled them with daisies, baby's breath, and some roses I purchased from a local florist. 

The food was the best part. 

My grandparents were so surprised! They thought they were going to one of their friend's birthday party, so they came with a gift.  

Even though we stated no gifts, the guests still brought some really sweet presents.  

My grandma opened the gifts while my grandpa socialized. 

It was such a sweet day! I am beyond thankful for these two people and I loved getting to celebrate them!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Costa Rica: Pura Vida

Warning: This post is entirely too long and contains entirely too many pictures.  You have been warned.

A couple of months ago, I began to peruse Groupon to see if we could find a great vacation. I had been leaning toward Costa Rica and we found a great 7 day, 6 night trip for an excellent deal. After a couple of days of checking reviews and wondering if this was too good to be true, we finally bought the Groupon and were so happy we did. We booked through Ecoterra, a company in Costa Rica and would go through them again in a heartbeat.

After a small hiccup with flights (maintenance problems) we arrived in San Jose to spend one night at the Best Western, Irazu. We were so worn out that we napped and woke up to find that it was dark at 6pm. Apparently it is 12 hours of day and 12 hours of night there. We ate a bite at the restaurant in the hotel and slept again, waking up refreshed and ready to go. The next morning, our tour guide for the next few days Javier picked us up to transport us to our next destinatuion-Tortuguero. We rode the bus for a couple of hours which was really interesting because we got to see diferent parts of the country.

We stopped to eat at La Selva Tropical where we got our first taste of Gallopinto, a traditional Costa Rican food, and enjoyed their butterfly garden.

We rode the bus for a couple more hours through the countryside of Costa Rica where we saw banana fields, and plenty of livestock.

These are the banana plants 

We finally arrived at our next destination which was this boat that would take us to our first "resort".  We transferred our luggage to the boat and took an hour long ride down the river.  

We spent two nights at the Laguna Lodge Tortuguero.  It was a very rustic place, with little cabins reminiscent of summer camp.  I loved it! Jeremy, not so much.  I think the lack of air conditioning got to him.  

The next morning after we ate breakfast (all of our meals were included here), we got back in another boat and went on a ride to look for wildlife.  I'm not going to lie, it was one of the highlights of my life.  We saw monkeys, sloths, cayman, and some reptiles.  Our boat driver Primo was amazing.  He stopped the boat frequently because he spotted these amazing creatures without binoculars or anything.  

The sloths were really hard to get pictures of, but they made me squeal anyway. 

Later on, we got to take a boat ride into the little town/village of Tortuguero.  We bought some souvenirs and enjoyed our stroll there. 
This was the best drink I've ever had. 

 This kind man made me a necklace out of a coconut shell.

Once our two nights were up, we boarded the boat and then bus again and were transported to our next destination about four hours away- La Casa Luna in La Fortuna.  

This place was absolutely gorgeous! The weather was a lot cooler than Tortuguero, but it was a lot more foggy.  We tried and tried to get a good picture of the volcano, but never succeeded.  

We went zip-lining while in Arenal and it was unlike anything we have here.  It was so much higher than the zip lining we have done and so much more beautiful.  We got to see waterfalls and the beautiful nature while flying through the trees.  It rained the entire time we were on this excursion, so we were disgusting, but oh so happy! 

After this excursion (which was all included in our Groupon package) we went back to the room, showered quickly and went to grab something to eat.  Later that evening we went on a volcano walk which was very informative! We also went to some hot springs which was not at all what we expected. We thought it was going to be some sort of natural spring, but it was underground pools that were heated to different temperatures.  So nice! I would have loved to stayed there forever! 

Our last day was spent in the town eating, and perusing the shops. 

The next morning, a driver came to pick us up and took us the three hours back to the airport.  We arrived back in the United States in no time and then we proceeded to spend the next 36 hours trying to get home.

We saw a lot of the country and got to experience so many neat things while in Costa Rica.  We never had to worry about anything while there; Ecoterra took such good care of us.  They booked everything from our shuttles to the excursions and we didn't have to worry about a thing. We loved every aspect of our week there, we just wish we had more time! We can't wait to return!