PumpkinFest (or how I threw my first surprise party)

The winner of my Fabulous Food Show giveaway (℅ random Rafflecopter.com pull) is Rachel from itsahero.com! You can still purchase tickets at the Fabulous Food Show website.

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When I was sixteen, my parents threw a surprise birthday party for me. I still have the “happy birthday” banner that hung in our garage that afternoon — it’s displayed on my fridge even to this day. What a fun feeling it was to have a rush of gratitude overcome you so suddenly!

As long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to throw Hans a surprise party. In past years, I’ve remembered this only days before his birthday. But this year, I remembered in early October — giving me plenty of time to gather up the troops and make a plan.

This was also a little self indulgent, I’ll admit — I’ve NEVER planned a surprise party before. Out of ALL the events over ALL the years! It was time to make sure I held on to my event planning talents by having some fun with this one. Here’s what came in handy in the process…

A CREATIVE THEME

That came easily, all thanks to Hans’ favorite fall food: pumpkin. (He’s on pumpkin pie number seven for 2014, BTW.) With a lot of help from my friends, the menu came together with pumpkin items I didn’t even know existed:

pumpkin fest dessert

…plus a couple non-pumpkin items. Let’s just say we ate very well that night.

A GAME PLAN TO GET HIM OUT OF THE HOUSE

I have to give full credit to my brother here. Drew came over the Monday before (questioning my last minute event planning skills) with the idea to ask Hans to go see a three-hour space-themed movie mid-Saturday afternoon. #jackpot Drew and Hans were gone by 2:45PM, giving me plenty of time to clean, prep food, get dolled up and greet guests before they returned at 6:30.

 PUMPKIN FEST HANS

Sure, his eyes are closed, but look at that smile. And those jazz hands. #onlyagleekalwaysagleek

A GREAT GUEST LIST OF FAMILY & FRIENDS

These people — plus my unpictured brother, mom and Hans’ best friend — all pitched in, while managing to keep it all a secret for the past few weeks…

pumpkin fest group shot

 …all for one very happy redhead. Somehow, he had no clue — so all and all, I guess it was a huge success! Now if only I talked my mom into making two of those cheesecakes… there is a full holiday season ahead of us though. Keep the pumpkin coming!

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GIVEAWAY: Market at the Food Bank {to benefit the Greater Cleveland Food Bank}

Personally, my favorite sign of spring? All the non-profit food and wine events, of course!

One of my favorites includes Market at the Food Bank. This year, it’s taking place on Sunday, May 4 and, as always, benefits the Greater Cleveland Food Bank and its Harvest for Hunger campaign.

Each dollar raised provides the Food Bank the resources to distribute four meals to our community members in need. By supporting this event, you can help the non-profit raise enough money to provide more than one million meals in one evening. Truly amazing!

General admission tickets are $85 per person. Purchase online to get your tickets today…

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The list of restaurants is QUITE impressive – check out the event website at www.greaterclevelandfoodbank.org/Market2014 for an up-to-date listing.

…or you can enter two win two tickets to the May 4th Market at the Food Bank event this week on the blog! Enter via the Rafflecopter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

You have until this Friday, April 25th at 12:00AM EST to enter. The winner will be announced later that morning. Since this event takes place in Cleveland, make sure you can attend before entering.  So why not enter to win today?!

Want to learn more about the Greater Cleveland Food Bank?  Check out their Facebook page,  and follow @CleveFoodbank on Twitter, @clefoodbank on Instagram and the #MarketatFB hashtag to keep up-to-date on all of the fine foodie eats that evening.

Disclosure: All images ℅ the Greater Cleveland Food Bank. In exchange for running this giveaway, I will receive two media passes to the May 4th event. My thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

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event recap & guest post: Yuri’s Night Cleveland at Great Lakes Science Center

A NOTE FROM PIP:  As I am freshly home from a yoga training in California (more on that on that week), today’s guest post comes to you from a recent giveaway winner. Take it away, Valerie!

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As someone who formally attended Space Camp (yeah, total space geek here) I simply HAD to enter to win tickets to Yuri’s Space Night Party in the giveaway on Poise in Parma. Of course, I was pretty thrilled when Alicia contacted me to let me know I won. Knowing that I’m a blogger too (Motherhood in Progress) Alicia asked if I’d be willing to guest post to let you know how the event went. I’m more than happy to share with you today!

My husband was out of town the weekend of the event, but luckily my good friend Stephanie was more than happy to join me and grandma was willing to babysit so we got in a much needed girls night out.

We pulled into the garage at the Great Lakes Science Center shortly before 8 (parking was FREE for the event too, which is always appreciated!) and took a jam packed elevator to the main floor along with an astronaut, a rebel pilot, and a few other interesting characters.

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There were plenty of people checking in and the band was already playing. We took a few laps around the Science Center just to check everything out and get our bearings. We first passed by some storm troopers and bounty hunters deep in conversation on the main level.

As we continued on there were several make and take stations busy with people making their own mini lightsabers, Yuri’s night LED pins, and Dr. Who bowties. Since it was a gorgeous night we grabbed a drink and headed outside where another band was setting up and the weather was perfect for looking out at the lake and Rock Hall. We then came in and grabbed a snack from one of the buffets which was filled with fried treats all night (and a cheese and cracker station too) and wandered around some more to see all the fantastic costumes!

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Perfect Weather to enjoy the viewing deck at the Great Lakes Science Center!

You could check out the Science Center exhibits all night, hear a talk on “blockbuster technology” (by David DaFelice), dance to tunes by Abby Normal and the Detroit Lean or DJ OZMTZ on the Discover Stage or check out DJ 41SE7EN in the blacklight lounge (where you could also sketch on the walls with glow in the dark markers or grab a glowing gin and tonic). Other activities included the Big Science Show, Cleveland Game Night, Are You Smarter than an Astronaut with Greg Johnson and a balloon drop at midnight.

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The New Blacklight Lounge

Hands-down, my favorite part though was seeing all the fantastic costumes! Dr. Who, Star Wars, Star Trek and plenty more Sci-Fi favorites were all represented as well as some very creative handmade creations. Fittingly though a Yuri costume took home the grand prize of the night.

I’m definitely putting this one on the calendar again for next year.

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