Friday, September 30, 2016

Fit for the Queen of the Court: A 40-love Birthday Party

The party I had been waiting 40 years for finally happened this Tuesday.   I simply could not have asked for a better day.  It was late a September day with just the slightest hint of a cool breeze, but with warm sunlight everywhere and not a cloud in the sky! In case you have not read my blog in the last few weeks (or ever, which is more likely), I went with a 40-Love theme.  Grab a coffee this is a long one.  All photos, unless otherwise noted below the photo, are the work of Lemon Cherry Photography.  You can find Lemon Cherry here.   The owner, Sara, is delightful and I think her company is going to grow from here.  If you are in St. Louis, you should definitely check her out!

I was gifted a bunch of dead balls and had so much fun crafting with them.  So did my 11 year old who made this 40 for me.  It adorned the gate to the tennis courts!

 The day started with 22 tennis players and 4 pros who expertly led us in drills and games.  Fortunately, I don't have to blot out eyes because most people are wearing sunglasses!
 The whole thing was made all the more special by the fact that I had a courtside DJ.  I think I will never want to play tennis again without someone pumping all the jams from my lifetime!  I have decided that my Hip Hop Tennis name is DJ Sweet Spot!
This is NOT one of my professional photos, but I thought it was important to show the courtside DJ :)

Lemonade, Tea and Assorted Nuts were served courtside as well as bottled water.

How cute are all of our rackets piled up???

When the games were finished, champagne and sparkling waters were butler-passed and then we headed it for a wee "cocktail hour."    Guests were greeted by a preppy pink and green rag swag that I created.  Two wreaths flanked the entrance (shown in photos below).

This is NOT one of my professional photos, but I wanted to show you this sweet rag garland that I created.  It was the basis for a lot of the other decor! 

We passed three appetizers: Roasted Shrimp in Pea Pod with a Soy-Mirin dipping sauce, Asparagus with boursin encased in phyllo, and a Petro on a Chinese Soup Spoon. Petros are my favorite treat from Knoxville, TN,  where I went to college.  They are just chili and cheese with fritos and toppings, but they were so elegant on the spoon and passed on a silver platter! 

After that guests found their seats.  I always like a place card because it helps guests feel at ease and it is one more chance for cute! 

 Here,  you can see some more of our handy work.  Tennis ball topiaries, 40 love stand-ups, and centerpieces featuring the same material as our rag garland adorned the room.
Aren't these napkin folds just the cutest??  YOU know I love a napkin fold!

I can't resist showing a close-up of this happy centerpiece.

Before lunch got started, I made a speech and was was presented with the sweetest book from my girlfriends.  Each one submitted a recipe and special note for me.  It was so, so kind, and I will treasure it for always!  They also gave one BIG group gift to ensure my 40's sparkle.  I adore these beautiful stacking rings!

I also got some bling from this guy, who reset my engagement ring for the new decade....I told you it was a good day!

 Now back to the party.......This was a perfect meal for a ladies lunch on the cusp of Fall.
Here were the menu cards and food:

This is NOT one of my professional photos.  Our time ended before dessert, but I had to show you these sweet skillet pies!
Finally, we sent each guest home with a tennis ball cookie that said, your friendship is my sweet spot!

If this day was any indication, my 40's are going to be great!

 Whether you are having a milestone birthday, celebrating holidays (as I will be this week), or just because it is finally almost sweater weather--Celebrate Everything!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

40-Love: A personal history of tennis

 As far back as I can remember my dad played tennis at least once a week.  I can still hear the ice water sloshing in his comically oversized 80’s thermos.   Sometimes my sister and I went out for lessons with our dad, which was equally fun and frustrating.  Needless to say I did not emerge tennis pro or even close to competent.  I did, however, get the earliest Wilson Hammer so that I looked like an ace.  Later, I lent that racket to my college boyfriend and somehow lost it in the break-up.  Even though I am sure he has long-since gotten rid of it, I take some small solace knowing he learned to play with a little girl grip!

After that there was no tennis in my life for a long, long time.  There seemed to be no time in graduate school, while D and I planned our wedding, and even less as we started our practices, decorated homes, and become parents.  Then one day I decided it was time to take up tennis.  The short version is that it was not immediately easy. I was pretty bad for quite awhile.  Why then would I choose to wax poetic on my milestone birthday about tennis? 

The answer is that, surprisingly, I liked it anyway.  A big lesson for me as I enter my 40’s is that it turns out that there can be joy in accepting that you are just okay at something.  And it turns out you can teach an old dog new tricks after all: I greatly improved with lots of practice.  I can now proudly and officially say that I am solidly “okay-ish at tennis.”     The lessons go much deeper than that, though.  You can learn a lot about life from the game of tennis.   Think for instance, that long before you start a match, you have to reach out to friends and make a commitment to be there for one another on the court.  It simply does not work to go it alone.  Sadly there is a maximum of four players on the court at a time, so sometimes you won’t be included.  Other times you will.  Make your own matches when you need to, and remember it’s just a game.

Once you step on the court, you have to play the  game for where you are at that moment—you have to be flexible and adjust whether you are on clay, hard court, grass or even the carpet at Frontenac.  Sometimes you will have the home court advantage and sometimes you will be the outsider.  Only YOU are responsible for your confidence as you step on the court.  It all begins with love.

Tennis players know that when the score is love all, or love everybody as I like to say, anyone can win.  That’s not to say it is easy from there.  Serving and getting the game started is one of the hardest things to do in tennis and any new venture.  Even if you serve well—you can get a foot-fault for standing in the wrong spot.  In tennis and life, you should know where you stand and know when to move if you are in the wrong place.  The good news is that if you mess up, you get a do-over.  That is an actual rule in tennis and each new point is an opportunity.  No matter how far behind you are, there is always room for a comeback unless you decide that you are going to lose, and then you probably will.  Sometimes you give it your all but your opponents is just too good—learn to compliment them and move on.  It is not always about you.  You can have the best rally of your life and lose the point—you have to recognize that your win was the rally itself.  Celebrate the small stuff.   Another day you may be better player.  You may be able to shut out a point, but find it to be more enjoyable to keep the ball in play instead.  The back and forth between the two sides is the reason you are there after all.   I could “serve” up these analogies all day, but it all comes down to this:  You can play up or down as long as you play nicely in life and on the tennis court.  Let new players in your game and love Everybody!

Thank you for being a part of my game and reading along with me!