twelve simple words, twelve powerful words, but must importantly: twelve words that perfectly describe my incredible momma.

Just over a month ago, my dad and I threw my momma a surprise 50th birthday party. My mom does not like the spotlight – she would rather be behind the scenes, doing the work. Because of this, we knew that if we did anything, it would have to be a surprise.

Her birthday perfectly fell on a Friday so we could plan a fun party for that evening and get lots of people who love her and have impacted her life (or she’s impacted theirs) together to help us celebrate.

My dad gave me a budget and let me do whatever I felt would honor her best! Events are so much fun for me to plan and I would love to maybe get into some form of various event design in the future with my interior design!

I decided to use my grandparents back patio because they have a perfect and beautiful view of the ocean! It’s a place my mom loves and is comfortable at – plus it wouldn’t seem odd for her to go to their house on her birthday! I wanted to keep the color scheme fairly neutral and simple, but classic and kind of farmhouse/Magnolia-esque because that seems like a perfect style to represent my mom!

We rented tables, chairs, and the bar from Baker Party Rental and then had the centerpieces be her favorite flowers, candles, and these super fun pumpkins! I fell in love with this pumpkin idea and since her birthday was in October, pumpkins seemed like a perfect, fall inspired piece to bring everything together.

Because I knew my mom wasn’t looking forward to turning 50, I wanted the night to be special with everyone she loved and everyone who loved her. I wanted her to feel special and valued and encouraged. I came up with that list of twelve words and each of the pumpkins were hand painted and represented one of the words. I hoped they would be pieces of encouragement for her to help make her smile and enjoy the night!

The calligraphy and artistry on these beautiful pumpkins, along with our bar menu and food menu, were by Brooke Gudenau of Bevy + Brine. Brooke is someone my mom adores and who used to work at one of my mom’s jobs. Brooke is also an incredible artist and I was so excited that she launched her event and design business within the same month or so that my mom’s party was! It was so fun bringing Brooke into the process because she knows my mom and what she would like. My mom also loved it when she found out that Brooke had helped and had a hand in the final product!

For the menu – dad took care of the bar and I found THE BEST CATERER EVER. Seriously though, use MIHO Catering Co. for your next party (if you live anywhere between San Diego, CA and Los Angeles). MIHO is based in San Diego and I’d heard about them/stalked their Instagram forever because lots of wedding planners and event designers use them at events! Their food always looks soooo tasty and is so well plated. They also seemed to be the most reasonably priced out of the three catering companies I contacted which just sealed the deal J

For food, we decided on heavy appetizers and dessert, of course. My momma, like Jessie, loves her treats and so we had to find the perfect ones to celebrate that quality of hers! For appetizers, we settled on their Ultimate Slider, Fish & Chip Cone, Lump Crab Fritters, Chicken & Waffle, Grilled Shrimp (Shrimp al Mojo de Ajo), and finally their Fall & Winter Salad. Each thing was out of this world spectacular. I don’t think I heard a single thing wrong with any of them!

To top it off, we had Butterscotch Budino Jars and Sugar Donut Holes with Chocolate Sauce. My dad also had a sweet woman make a cake and cake pops! Again, the desserts rocked and I probably ate one too many donut holes!!

The best part of the whole night though was how surprised my mom was. She had no idea and I am so proud of everyone for keeping it a secret! All her best friends and all the incredible people who work with us at the foundation didn’t say a single thing or make it seem like something was up!! Watching her walk in the door and completely stop dead in her tracks before smiling brought tears to my eyes. I was so happy that we got to celebrate her in the best way possible and that we were able to make it such a fun evening for her to remember and enjoy!!

x’s and o’s,


***these photos are from Brooke!