Galactic Starr Party

You may have noticed that I love dressing up for a themed party. I even made a resolution to throw my own themed party, and I started trying to figure out Pinterest to scour for ideas for theme that seemed too obvious not to do.

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Look who learned to use Pinterest!

So for my upcoming 25th birthday, I decided to throw a galactic star(r) party! And finally put my previously-useless skill of finding star things to good use! It did seem a bit self-indulgent to have a star party but spoiler alert: I am a little sick of stars now, so we will all be seeing just a bit fewer of them in my life.

Time to focus on our little blue dot for a bit

An initial challenge was picking the date. Because I have a December birthday so close to the holidays, my party would have to compete with holiday parties and festivities all over the place. I also tried to take into consideration that two of my friends who were key in helping me pull the party together may need to help another friend with his birthday party. I picked the first weekend of December to try to play it as safe as possible with regards to conflict.

Once I had the date, it was just a matter of slowly accumulating things I wanted to have at the party. As a girl named Starr, I have seen and been shown a lot of starry, space-themed, galactic things. Little by little, I started collecting pieces that I wanted to showcase.

Planetary glasses – ThinkGeek | Star string lights – Target | Star-shaped cookies – Trader Joe’s | Photo credit: Meghan Vu

Make no mistake: even though I love logistics, this was stressful to plan. I was really unsure of how much food to get, because I wasn’t planning on serving enough to be dinner, but I didn’t want people to be hungry. I wasn’t serving alcohol because I don’t drink, but I haven’t been to a dry adult party… ever…?

Menu: Veggie spring rolls, Taiwanese popcorn chicken (thanks Irene at Jumbo Jumbo!)  Chicken McNuggets (40 for $8.99 the best deal!!!), veggie trays (for nutrition!), Martinelli’s sparkling apple cider, assortment of fancy sparkling juices and sodas, assortment of my favorite chips. Also some people brought booze and I may have been one of them.

I got 2 cakes in case there wasn’t enough. (Spoiler alert: I had way too much cake. Not only did we not touch the 2nd cake, we got through way less than half of the first one. Maybe the biggest mistake of the entire party was ordering that second cake.) A big part of my decoration initially was candy, so then I got to worrying about how many sweets I had. (A lot. It was a lot of sweets.)

Galaxy lollipops – SparkoSweetsSparkoSweets  | Photo: Meghan

I got my first-ever salon manicure in preparation for this, and that was a strange ordeal because the nail tech really wanted to fulfill a vision of different colors with different glitters on all my nails! I was only able to put my foot down so much but I think it still turned out lovely, despite the orange (gr…) and pink glitter bits. She was so convinced that it was a cute polish and she wasn’t wrong. I just wanted… only silver glitter. I lost that battle but I won the war.

This beautiful dark teal with blue sparkles that is barely showing through in the photo is CND Midnight Swim, with a more colorful glitter than I planned for…

I also spent the days leading up the party in a mad panic trying to get the finishing touches and getting express shipping for things that I almost forgot about. Oops. I originally planned to get my hair blown out so I’d have one less unruly thing to worry about, but things don’t always work out the way you plan. There was also the incident where Ben and I spent over an hour searching for an item I could’ve sworn was on the dining table only to later discover it still in the mailbox.

I became fixated on the idea of serving bubble tea at my party, because I wanted a beverage I loved that went well with cake. I got several without the bubbles, knowing that some people still weren’t quite used to them. Photo: Meghan

What really came through for the aesthetic of the party was the lights. As nice as the little pieces of decor I had looked, with how large the room was, what really pulled the entire thing together was the 30 strands of fairy lights that I was able to borrow.


Another key show-stopper was my stunning galaxy mirror cake.



The making of the above photo involved holding the box for the Trader Joe’s star-shaped cookies and flashing a cell phone flash light through it over the cake.

A thousand thank yous to Lavande Patisserie and their pastry chef, Chef Andrew for making my dream cake. My friends wanted to do a grand reveal of the cake to me, and I was blown away. It looked even better than I expected!!!


With colored-flame candles! Photos: Meghan

My only regret is that I ordered 2 cakes out of fear that there wouldn’t be enough. As it turns out, people were pretty full and couldn’t even eat 1/3 of the first cake. So… we brought back a LOT of cake…

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A silly photo of me anxiously trying to slice the cake… and finding the mirror glaze was not so easy to cut! The little crown on my head was gifted to me a few minutes prior to the cake, I did not show up at my birthday party wearing a crown… Photo: Meghan

Oh yeah, and I wore ThinkGeek’s incredible twinkling lights skirt! It was a lot of work to string the lights through it, but I think the result was well worth it.

I am also eternally grateful to my friends who helped me put together the party. Annie, who is a party professional, was invaluable to me, as was Tim, who put together the amazing photobooth.

I wish I had taken more photos of the event, because there were so many starry details that I put together for it. Different lights, different decals, there was an origami lucky star station. The games, the gifts, the wonderful themed outfits my friends wore.

I will have to just cherish all of that in my memory, and I hope my friends will, too.

I’m so grateful that I was able to pull this party off. The best feeling was looking around at all the friends that I’ve made. I have been reflecting a lot on what kind of friendships I have and what kind of friend I am over the past few years, so I am always amazed and appreciative of the friends who choose to spend their time with me.

Thank you to all of my friends who joined me to celebrate stars and space! I had a stellar time and hope you did, too.

Surviving Valentine’s Day

I am so lucky to be alive right now. But let’s dial back the drama and start at the beginning.

Ben and I went to a Valentine’s Day party at our friend Tim’s on Saturday. Because of this, I decided I would make Ben a fancy home-cooked meal Friday night instead. Here’s the menu:

Soup Egg drop w/ tofu & shiitake mushroom  Salad Mixed baby arugula and baby kale, avocado, bell peppers, pomegranate  Bread Red Lobster cheddar bay biscuits  Entree Surf 'n' Turf: Steak and Maryland-style crab cake  Sides Garlic mashed red potatoes Roasted brussel sprouts w/ bacon  Dessert French-toasted PB&J w/ French vanilla ice cream & berry reduction
The finished menu I served! I had to drop the appetizer because I wasn’t able to get ahold of scallops in time. Also, I forgot to include that I served my steak with onions & mushrooms

Even though I still have kinks to work out with timing, I think dinner went really well. I got way too ambitious with the amount of food I made and we had most of what I cooked for dinner the next day for leftovers.

The spread… complete with sparkling apple cider because nothing says fancy like sparkling apple cider
Clockwise from top left: Steak w/ onions & mushrooms, Garlic mashed potatoes, Brussel sprouts w/ bacon, Crab cake

I got so caught up with trying to make Ben a fancy meal that I realized I had lost sight of why I was doing it: to make him a meal that he loves. He was getting stressed by my constant grilling of “What is your ideal meal?” “What do you wish I would cook for you I’LL MAKE IT” “Name a fancy meal you wish you had more often!”. What he loves is PB&J, plain and simple.

So I jazzed it up by making it a stuffed French toast, drizzling a berry reduction over top, and serving with vanilla ice cream. Plain and simple.

Started with heart-shaped sandwiches, French-toasted, the berry reduction, and then ICE CREAM YES

On Valentine’s Day, we kicked off with brunch at La Malinche for all-you-can-eat tapas and bottomless drinks. (You have to get the drinks on the weekends; we usually like coming on weekdays for AYCE lunch because we don’t really drink.) Ben and I were committed to eating as much as we could for as long as we could. We held out for 2½ hours before throwing in the towel. When we walked out, it had barely started flurrying. We knew there was snow in the forecast and figured we could take a food coma nap before heading out to Tim’s party.


By the time we finished the leftovers from the night before and were ready to leave, Tim was already urging people to park on top of the hill and not at the bottom of it. Many folks had already cancelled because of the weather.

Red flag #1: The garages in Ben’s community are all below-ground, and we saw a car struggling to get up the incline away from the garage. I reminded Ben to drive slowly and we mozied towards the beltway when Google Maps told us that it would take nearly 3 hours to drive the 20 miles to Tim’s house on the beltway and only 45 minutes to go through DC. It almost always takes longer to get anywhere by going through the District, so we figured there must have been a pretty bad accident on the beltway. (How bad the accident was… probably red flag #2.)

Red flag #3: As we were driving, Ben was weirded out by several blank road signs. I realized that they were not blank, but that the snow had been blown horizontally and immediately frozen over, resulting in whited-out road signs. Speed limits? Who knows. Exit numbers? Iono. Street names? No clue. The roads were nearly empty and the signs were blank. It felt like we were in some post-apocalyptic horror video game. I joked that every gust of wind that brought about powdery snow was actually a ghost. In hindsight, I think this just made me more tense.

Red flag #4: Cars were skidding EVERYWHERE. We were about a mile away from Tim’s house when Ben started skidding himself. It was pretty scary.

Then it happened.

We were already driving really slow (“10 miles an hour? What is this, Fast and Furious slow down, Tokyo Drift!” – my shrill voice) when we were trying to make one of the last turns to reach Tim’s. The car lost traction and we started skidding, unable to stop.

We hit a bus. Luckily, since we were going at about 3 mph at this point (less than 5 kph for my international friends). Ben was so freaked out that he just went into “what kind of damage was there we have to file an insurance report???” mode. I was like “WHAT IF THERE WERE PEOPLE ON THE BUS?!” Since we were going so slowly, we just got a tiny scratch and there was no damage to the bus or the people on it. (No damage to the people in our car either.) We walked away with no reports filed because it really wasn’t worth the trouble. But oh man, were we shaken.

We arrived at the party to find that all 100+ people who were slated to arrive weren’t there. Because of the insane road conditions. I mean, people usually flake anyway but Tim was stressing about fire codes and the police showing up. The Facebook event was full of “Tried to come over but there was standstill traffic, had to turn around” and “Couldn’t make it out of my driveway sorry!” so the party didn’t end up being as packed as anticipated.

Tim goes ALL OUT. There was a free raffle, 10 gallons of homemade sangria, so much alcohol I didn’t even bother to tally it up, karaoke with 5 microphones, bumpin’ dance floor in the garage, a live serenade, and so much more. It was easily one of THE best parties I have ever attended in my life.

RAFFLE TIME. (Do you see the giant chocolate heart in the back?)
Friends Tommy and Jeff nailin’ it at karaoke
Bumpin’ dance floor that was really cold (it was in the garage) but once you worked up a sweat, it was nice to just press your face against the literally-freezing garage door.

Even though it was about 11°F (~-11/12°C), my friend wanted s’mores so we headed out to the firepit on the patio. It was SOOOOOOOOOO COLD even after I put on fuzzy penguin slippers and threw blankets over myself. It was really nice in front of the fire but the wind was cuh-razy. We were on wind advisory and apparently winds reached about 50 mph Saturday night. I was very wary of this because a) the wind was blowing the flames dangerously close to everyone sitting around it and b) the wind was blowing the trees kind of all over the place. It was very cool in an eerie way, watching the trees sway violently against a clear night sky. As I was trying to point out how cool the trees looked, we heard it.

Toasty and warm! Even though all the s’mores ingredients were frozen solid.

SNAP! CRASH! A tree behind Tim’s house was just blown down. We watched a tree fall. TIME TO PACK UP we did not want to be under the next tree that fell. How many brushes with death were we going to experience on Valentine’s Day?

Instead of driving back to Ben’s when we left, we drove to my place because the highways weren’t treated yet and we didn’t want to be on the roads any longer than we had to. Plus, with the steep incline leading to the garage, we couldn’t risk it. Still, I live in a hilly area, so it was risky either way. We were relieved to reach my apartment alive, even though we had no phone chargers and dead phones.

But we were alive and we were together.

How was your weekend? (Hopefully way fewer near-death experiences. Hopefully zero of them.)

And I hope you take the chance to stop and smell the… just kidding, I won’t. 😛