Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Kristen's Russian To Get Hitched

For our dear friend Kristen's bachelorette party, her Maid of Honor, Natalie, Brittany, and I surprised her with a trip to Guerneville on the Russian River.  Kristen lives in North Carolina so she came out just for this (as well as her bridal shower in Concord on Sunday!), and she was so excited to just spend a weekend with friends and let the surprises roll in.  The first surprise was that Amanda flew out from Chicago for the weekend!  Check out the unveiling:

We had a great time with the details that would make her feel extra special, including hanging photos of her with all of us over the years around the house.

Here's the cast of characters for the weekend:

Natalie, Emma, Ari, Kristen, Brittany, and Amanda,
enjoying the finest Costco has to offer!

The location could not have been more picturesque.  Our deck overlooked the Russian River, and was surrounded by every shade of green you could imagine.

Friday night we spent at the house, hot tubbing, snacking, and playing games.  Since Kristen introduced me to Scattergories and it's one of her favorite games, I made a personalized wedding-themed one for her with the letters being her future initials, KHB.  After that, we played a game we called Hubba Bubba, where her fiance, Daniel, answered an array of questions ahead of time about himself, Kristen, and their relationship, and Kristen had to guess his responses, with errors resulting in the punishment of adding an extra piece of bubble gum to her growing wad.  The questions ranged from simple facts to touching memories to scandalous confessions.  It was amazing to watch Kristen's reactions, and also to learn more about their relationship!

Later, before playing naughty Pictionary ("I don't know...balls?!") and extreme charades, we brought out the stripper Ken cake!

The next day we spent a leisurely morning at home and didn't get out of the house until almost 2.

I swear the trip was in California and not Bali, but who can tell?

When we finally ventured out, we stumbled upon a wine and food festival in downtown Guerneville and spent some time there basking in the sun, sampling the local cuisine, and hoarding highly-coveted forks.  We asked a cop to take a picture of the bachelorette group, and he instantly pulled out his handcuffs as a joke (the people in Guerneville sure are friendly).

The whole gang!


Next we headed to the river for some sunshine.  While there, we played Cards Against Humanity (I successfully lost) and were serenaded by bagpipes that were playing for a wedding procession on the bridge.


That evening, we got primped to go out in downtown Guerneville, adorned with fresh flower crowns inspired by Brittany.  Here we are making them Friday morning before we left for the river:

And sporting them for our night out on the town!

Bride and MoH!

On our balcony


We started the night at the Mexican-themed El Barrio, had dinner at Boon, and later moved on to Pat's.  Everyone we came across that evening was so friendly.  At one point, a lady offered to take a picture of the group so we could all be in it, and a few seconds later another lady offered if she could take the picture so the first girl could get in it.  Seriously, such a fun, generous, welcoming crowd down by the river.  Along the same lines, at the tiny and gourmet Boon, the whole restaurant wanted to celebrate with us, and one table even initiated a restaurant-wide raucous cheers to the bride!

The sweet suite: 5/8 girls from our freshman dorm at UCSD!
We missed you, Pree!

"Make a funny face" apparently means "look up and to the side" to everyone pictured above.

Pat's was a dive bar that was filled with some of the most interesting, persuadable people we've ever met.  We kicked off a game of truth or dare, and I had brought several prompts for the girls to choose from.  Kristen's first dare set the tone for the night when she got this guy to happily take his shirt off for us.

There were several other terribly entertaining dares throughout the evening.  Ari had to stand at the bar and fake cry until someone asked her what was wrong, and she ended up getting a handful of free beers out of it.  Brittany had to speak in an accent for the remainder of the game, and the phrase "Two shots of Jameson for the girl from County Cork" will never leave my memory.  Here she is in disbelief that the woman behind her actually thought she was from Ireland and wanted to buy her a drink:

The best story from the night came when some of our new townie friends got extremely involved in our game, to the point where they were making up their own dares for each other.  One girl dared her guy friend (who she claimed would do literally anything) to get the boxers of another guy at the bar.  We didn't think much of it, but he went out into the crowd like a man on a mission.  Before we knew it, this guy named Lucky strutted over to the group, planted his beer on the floor, and started unbuttoning his pants.  We all just stared at each other with our jaws dropped, in disbelief at what was about to unfold.  Kristen later said, "I was trying to remember, did we say he just had to take his pants off?  Wait, no!  He had to give us his boxers!"  And so, shoes and socks still on, he awkwardly wiggled out of his pants, pulled off his boxers and threw them at us, stood in his manly glory for a few seconds, and then put his pants back on.  Our reactions vacillated between shocked silences and screams and giggles.  We may not have hired a stripper for the weekend, but we sure did get Lucky.

Kristen and Lucky 
(I think his boxers are tucked in his pocket)

Oh, what a night.  #guernvegas

Our house on the river was appropriately named "Memory Lane".  Kristen described her weekend as "a celebration of lasting friendship" and I think that's the perfect way to sum it up!

Kristen, we all love you so much and had such an epic weekend celebrating you.  Can't wait for June when we all get to be a part of your and Daniel's celebration of love!


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Backstage Pass: Anaheim/L.A.

Last month, I experienced a weekend for the books.  It was time for my annual "business" trip with Box's snack and drink vendor, and this time around we were going to Anaheim for the Expo (last year, you might recall, was Portland!).  Basically I was faced with the prospect of hanging out with part of my awesome team (see Addi and Jason, below, after some creole cuisine at Downtown Disney), sampling a ton of snacks, and little did I know...meeting Channing Tatum.  Yes, the star of Magic Mike, Step Up, and your most private, racy dreams.  

We got hooked up by our vendor to go to the private meet and greet area where Channing was hanging out and repping Runa, a natural energy drink.  Addi and I went up first, and she was a rock star when she asked him about his art hobby, at which point he whipped out his..., and showed us pictures of his latest sculpture.  My claim to fame is that I was bold enough to touch his abs in the photo.  Don't know what came over me, but I liked it.

After the fair, I headed to L.A. to spend the weekend with Ian.  He was a great host, humoring my request to tour the WB lot (where the poor guy already spends the whole week working).  The highlight was getting to see the Central Perk set, and I also got to see a ton of batmobiles and the Harry Potter exhibit, where I tried on the sorting hat (Hufflepuff!).  That night we went to a BBQ at Charlotte's house (my roommate from Bologna) and it was a lovely little reunion filled with guacamole.

On Sunday, Ian, his girlfriend, Kelsey, and I headed to Disneyland!  It was a beautiful day and not as crowded as we expected so we got to ride our favorites twice.  We ate everything (I seriously ate eggs benedict, a morning churro, about 8 snacks I'd brought from the fair, a corn dog, and beef stew).  "Disneyland requires a lot of energy," she insisted defensively. 

The parade was fun of course, and I'm in negotiations with Disney to make these motorized carousel horses a commuter option:

Such a great weekend that helped take the edge off of my general animosity toward L.A.  Thanks, Ian!