Tag Archives: 18th birthday

Time for Tea


The day had finally arrived for Gracie’s 18th birthday celebration:

A Downton Abbey Victorian tea party.



My mom made reservations for us to hold Gracie’s tea party at The Zimmerman Bury Octagon House in Marshallville, Ohio. This Queen Ann style octagonal house was built in 1883 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It now serves as a museum of the middle class Victorian way of life.

Taken from their website:

“Victorian Holiday High Teas at the Historic  Zimmerman-Bury Octagon House:
Enjoy an authentic Victorian Holiday Pink High Tea at this unique National Historic Landmark, located 6 miles North of Orrville on state route 57.  Drink in the ambiance of the Victorian era while savoring a buffet of tea sandwiches, pastries, fruit salads & always English Trifle, plus more.  Your hostesses will greet you in 1880’s clothing, provide a history of the house, and serve the period foods created from original family recipes.”

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Our tea party was scheduled for 1:00 pm. After a relaxing morning we began dressing for this special occasion. We gathered in the guest room and had fun doing each other’s hair and make-up as we dolled up for this special event.

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When we were all done getting ready we went outside to get some pictures before we left for the Octagon house.

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When we arrived were greeted by the butler who was waiting outside to escort us in.

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The home was charming and reflective of the Victorian style common at the turn of the century.


The lady of the house sat us in the parlor where she shared with us some of the history of the house and the Victorian customs of that time period.

As she spoke a little kitten wandered into the room to say “hello.” She told us that the kitten was a stray that had been found under the front porch of the home. When they took her in the decided that if the cat was a boy it would be named “Downton” and if it was a girl it would be named “Abbey.” It turns out they are also fans of the show. 🙂 The kitten ended up with the name “Abbey.”

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The head housekeeper then announced that tea was served.

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We were led into the dining room. The table was covered in delicious food including: three different types of tea sandwiches, scones, welsh rarebit, tomato aspic with dill sauce, fruit compote, trifle, and desserts. For our drink we were offered three different tea choices or strawberry lemonade.

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We were seated in the parlor to enjoy tea time. We had so much fun feasting on delicious food, admiring the décor, but most importantly visiting and making special memories that we will be able to look back and reflect on in the years to come.

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Having her birthday tea at the Octagon house was a special gift from my parents that I know Grace will all look back on with fondness in the years ahead. It was such a special way to celebrate a special birthday with a very special girl!

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Our tea party ended with birthday cake as we all sang to the birthday girl.

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“The most treasured heirlooms are the sweet memories of family.”

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A Belated Mother’s day


We spent Sunday in Ohio.

My sister, Kelly, and her daughter, Lydia, had driven down to my parents’ house for the weekend. They had traveled 7 hours south from their home in northern Michigan to celebrate Gracie’s 18th birthday with her at her Downton Abbey tea party.

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Because our family is spread from Michigan to Texas whenever we do get together we take advantage of that rare treat and celebrate all the birthdays and holidays that fall around that time. This weekend we celebrated Grace, Molly, and Kelly’s spring birthdays as well as Mother’s Day with my mom.

Since Grace, Molly, and I needed to be in Ohio on Monday for the tea party we decided to drive two vehicles out to the Homestead and then at the end of the day Toby could drive back home with the boys and the girls and I could stay and begin Gracie’s celebration.

It was a perfect day. The sun was out and the temperature was ideal. We ate lunch outside and then opened gifts.

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The kids each painted Mimi a flower on a canvas for Mother’s Day. (Grace is holding the rose Tyler painted since I couldn’t get him to come over for a picture. He is still self conscious about his new hair-do.)

 It was nice to be able to celebrate Mother’s day all together (I just wish my brother, Travis, could have joined us.)

Molly and Grace also received their birthday gifts from Aunt Kelly…beautiful necklaces that were so personal and perfect for each of them!

The remainder of the day was spent enjoying family time outside:

Playing with the farm animals…

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Tyler challenging Bobby to a duel.

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 Blowing BIG bubbles…

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And playing our traditional game of badminton….

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Around 5:00 the boys headed back home and the girls’ night began.

The first item on the agenda was hat decorating. I had picked up some inexpensive straw hats for us to decorate for the tea party. The girls had fun raiding Mimi’s ribbon and flower stash to create lovely tea party hats.


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While we created we had fun taking Downton Abbey personality quizzes online to determine which character we would each be.

When the hats were done the girls put on swimsuits and hopped in Mimi and Pop pop’s hot tub for a soak.


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Then it was time for party favors!

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Mimi had found a beautiful antique tea set that she purchased for the big day. She had filled each tea cup with treats for every girl to take home, and then gave Grace the tea pot, creamer and sugar bowl as part of her gift. The set was charming and was just Gracie’s style.

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My party favors for the group were Downton Abbey paper dolls that I found online and wrapped with a pair of scissors for each girl. (Thank you, Pinterest!)

We ended our evening by watching an episode of Downton Abbey to set the tone for our tea party the following day and to introduce Lydia to the characters and story since she had never seen the show. Gracie carefully chose an episode that would be entertaining and appropriate for a 10 year old, as well as one that highlighted all the main characters. She chose Season 1 episode 4 when Branson comes to Downton Abbey to be the new chauffer and Sybil wears pants.


It was a perfect way to end a wonderful day with family,

as well as a perfect way to start Gracie’s Downton Abbey tea party birthday celebration.

The Best Gift ever!


This week Grace turned 18 and Gracie’s best friend celebrated it in an epic way! Olivia planned 18 gifts in honor of Gracie’s 18th birthday and stretched out her birthday celebration over 9 days.

And as if that wasn’t impressive enough, she then planned 18 gifts that were representative of 18 memories she and Grace have shared over the years.

She then wrapped the gifts in chronological order beginning with their earliest shared memories, moving toward present day. With each gift she included a note explaining the gift and the memory it reflects.

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It was the most impressive gift EVER, with so much love and thought put into it. It was a delight to walk down memory lane vicariously, as Grace opened a gift a day. It was a joy to be able to remember all the sweet memories they have shared over the years. The Hudaks have been a part of our life for so long. I hadn’t realized how long ago they became such an intrinsic part of our life, and it wasn’t until I began looking at the pictures and reading Olivia’s words that I really recognized how center this relationship has been in our lives.

The weeklong birthday celebration for Grace began last week when Olivia gave Grace her first gift, a kitten notebook, with an explanation of her gift. Olivia also sent home a bag of gifts for Grace that I was to give her on days that Olivia wouldn’t see her. They were all labeled so tht I knew which gift to give her each day..

Wednesday – Tuesday marked phase one of the Best Gift Ever!!

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Here are the gifts and memory tags shared in phase 1:

1. Headband: “I’ll explain tomorrow!”

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2.The kitten notebook: “This gift represents when your family adopted Lizzy’s kittens in June of 2007. It also represents all the doodles of dresses we used to draw in our notebooks instead of writing down history notes.”



3. Lemon squeezer: “This is for all of the “sour” times we’ve had together. There have been plenty, haven’t there? (Grace is ruining my love life!) hahaha but we forgot about them because mostly we have sweet times and memories together. Hope you enjoy it!”

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4. Hint of Lime tortilla chips: “This is in honor of your 10th birthday in 2008. You had a Mexican themed party! Eat up!”

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5. Heart shaped gum container: “2008 was the year I began to like boys. Thus, it was the year that you were dubbed the Love Doctor. Thank you for putting up with me and various Love Doctor things you had to put up with over the years. I’m sure most of us girls at co-op have a long and high-priced psychiatrist fee that we owe you!”


6. High School Musical Barbie doll: “I was going through old yearbooks to figure out what to get you, and in 2009 (fourth grade) you said you wanted to meet Ashley Tisdale because she was your favorite singer. I got her for you!”

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7. Face mask and nail polish: “We had more spa days than I can count. Each sleepover back then was turned into a spa day! We painted nails, did facials, and tickled friends with back massagers while they were sleeping. (Remember that?) Good times, good times.”

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8. Chocolate Hazelnut tea: “We had a tea party or two when we were younger. This picture is from 2010! Look at how small we were!! Adorable!”

Phase two began Wednesday morning when we arrived at co-op. Wednesday was Gracie’s actual birthday and the remaining 9 gifts were given over the course of the day on Wednesday.

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Here are the gifts and memory tags that were given on Wednesday during Phase 2:

9. A song written by Olivia for Gracie in 2011: “Gracie’s 13th birthday song!”

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10. Mascara, eye shadow and face wash: “When you turned 14 in 2012 you could wear makeup! You also got a Facebook account, but I didn’t know what to give you to represent that, so instead there’s face…wash?”

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11. Butterflies: At our first Halloween dance at your church in October 2013 we dressed as butterflies. Look how pretty we looked! You did an awesome job on that makeup.”

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12. Gum: “On January 30, 2014 you got your braces off. Here’s a throwback celebrating that day.”

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13. Paint and paintbrushes: “This is for 2015- we painted a lot last year. Between the painting party we had in February to driving to Downingtown for mural club, we were always using paints and paintbrushes! Therefore, we  always need more of them. Happy Birthday!”

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14. Framed photo: “On March 19, 2015 you and I got together and created what is known to the world as PerfectlyImperfect3.14 (on YouTube.) It lasted approximately 7 months and 2 weeks. We posted nine videos. It wasn’t the greatest, but it was ours, and it was fun while it lasted!”

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15. Homemade potato soup: “Just Because! Like, it’s your favorite. I don’t think anything else needs to be said here.”  🙂

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16. Mini Candy Bouquet: “This is a reference to going to Downingtown for 3 days from June 2nd-June 4th. We had an awesome time!”

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17. Homemade chocolate drizzled caramel popcorn: “And here is some popcorn in memory of both the houseboat vacation, but also, mostly, meeting Maggie Stiefvater on October 17, 2015. I had the most wonderful time with you all- I mean really, it was my favorite people who went with me to go see one of my other favorite people! How much better can you get? Anyway, thank you for joining me on that fabulous day! I will treasure it forever (and I hope you guys will too.)

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The final gift (#18) was the best of all…

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Olivia made a power point slide show of the story of their friendship, put to the music of their childhood. It was very special and I had to fight back tears as I watched my baby and her best friend grow and evolve on the screen into the lovely women they are this day.

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(I wish I could post it to share but it is just too big of a file)


It was one of the most thoughtful gifts I have ever had the pleasure of witnessing, so reflective of the giver and of the sweet friendship they enjoy. Olivia, thank you for being such a dear friend to my Grace,

and for making her 18th birthday unforgettable!