Well, here we are, reaching the end of most stay-at-home orders! Although, if you have school-age kiddos at home, then your stay-at-home order is pretty much still in effect, you know, with the rest of the school year being cancelled and all.
My nephews (ages 2 and 4 years old) have been home from preschool over the last several weeks, so we have had our fair share of Disney+ marathons. One of their favorite kid-friendly movie sagas is Toy Story, which we’ve binge-watched about once a week (at least) since March. And I’m not just talking about movies 1-4, as Disney+ has additional video “shorts” called Toy Story Toons that are equally as entertaining, but run for right around 5-minutes or so each.
One such “short” that we have come to really appreciate in recent weeks is “Hawaiian Vacation“. In this one, Barbie and Ken try to stow away in Bonnie’s school backpack to accompany Bonnie on her family’s Hawaii vacation. SPOILER ALERT: Their plan is foiled when Bonnie does not bring her school backpack on vacation (go figure), leaving Barbie and Ken bitterly disappointed; that is, until Woody, Buzz and the rest of the toys save the day by setting up Bonnie’s room like it’s own tropical paradise resort and creating all of the moments Barbie and Ken had hoped to experience on their Hawaiian getaway.
You know you live in crazy times when real-life circumstances at home resemble a Disney/PIXAR sketch! For instance, my sister (Kristyn) and her husband (Hudson) just celebrated their big 10th wedding anniversary a couple weeks ago. Several months prior, they had booked their dream vacation with Jo’s Monogram Vacations to spend a week — you guessed it — in Hawaii! Complete with a once-in-a-lifetime sunrise volcano bike ride, a traditional Hawaiian luau and all the bells and whistles of a top-notch resort in Polynesian paradise, Jo made sure to hook them up with everything they could have ever wanted to experience on the island.
Side note – It costs absolutely nothing to have Jo plan your trips, so don’t miss out on booking with her because she will 100% set you up right and at no additional cost for her services!
COVID-19, however, had other plans that involved shutting down the travel and hospitality industries altogether, which ultimately shut down Kristyn and Hudson’s dream vacation. Suddenly, Barbie and Ken’s bitter disappointment was their reality and it wasn’t such an entertaining storyline anymore. It broke my heart to see the joy of celebrating their decade of marriage together be overshadowed by such disappointing circumstances. So, I asked myself: what could be done? Better yet, what would Woody & Buzz do? At which I answered: To Instacart… AND BEYOND!
Not only could Kristyn and Hudson not go on their vacation, they couldn’t even go out to a nice dinner due to restaurant closures. They had arranged for the boys to stay with Hudson’s parents that night, so I also arranged for Justin and me to stay in his parents’ other spare room so that the homebound happy couple could celebrate in peace. All they had to do was agree to let us take care of “happy hour” for them. They kindly obliged, thus commencing Operation: Home-waii Getaway.
It’s no secret that The Fresh Market has a beautiful and reasonably priced fresh florals department, so that’s where I began my Instacart search, knowing that I wanted to find bright rose petals to sprinkle in their room, but I’ll get to all of that in a minute. What I was super-excited to find there was the same Wild Hibiscus Flowers in Syrup that were used in their signature cocktails at their wedding! The recipe is simple and delicious: drop one flower into the bottom of a champagne flute, top with champagne, and voila! The “Hilkersworth” Cocktail (adapted from a similar concoction my sister used to order at Datz when they lived in Tampa). And the answer is yes, the flower is both edible AND delicious!
Signature cocktails: check! Now, on to decorative accents to bring their Hawaiian Happy Hour to life! Kristyn and I share an affinity for collecting metal serveware and colorful home accessories of all kinds, so I had a lot of fun going through her collection and pulling pieces that were tropical and eye-catching. We had just recently reorganized her collection in their newly-added garage cabinets from Hollingsworth Cabinetry (#quarantineprojects), so I knew exactly where everything was! Once I had made my selections, I collected some beautiful palm fronds from their back yard and threw in a few colorful roses to really bring the Hawaiian tropics to life in the centerpiece.
Now, as it is with any worthwhile happy hour, there needs to be a delectable selection of small plates to nibble on, so I aimed to curate a menu that would be delicious and pay homage to Hawaii! Most items came from Aldi and The Fresh Market (YAY for both being on Instacart).
- Tempura Shrimp with Sweet Chili Sauce
- Smoked Salmon, Whipped Cream Cheese, Capers & Lemon
- Tomato Caprese: Tomato, Fresh Mozzarella, fresh-picked Basil & Balsamic Vinegar
- Charcuterie Meats: Pepper Salami, Hot Capocollo & Hot Calabrese
- Artisanal Cheeses: Brie & Smoked Gouda
- Prosciutto, Honey Goat Cheese & Dried Apricots
- Multi-seed Crackers
- Roasted Almonds
After all of the delicious charcuterie and canapés, it is never a bad idea to have something sweet to round out the flavors. While the boys napped that afternoon, their sweet nanny helped me dip strawberries in homemade chocolate ganache while I made homemade whipped cream in the KitchenAid Stand Mixer from a super-easy and YUM-azing recipe here. She also helped me get everything plated in record time before the couple of the hour arrived home early (phew!). Since “room service” would not be available that evening, the champagne was set in a beverage chiller with ice, housed within a larger chiller of ice (to accommodate more bottles) so that they could take it “to-go” upstairs, along with the strawberries, for a lovely and portable dessert pairing. Speaking of upstairs…
This was the final trick up my sleeve. The grand finale, if you will. Using the pretty palms that I had clipped from their back yard (don’t worry, it’s pruning season and they have already come back two-fold) along with the petals of the roses and greenery I had ordered from The Fresh Market, I created a tropical path of sorts to their Hawaiian Resort & Spa Master Suite. To complete the experience, I included a Capri Blue Volcano candle (my favorite) AND 2 bottles of Waiakea Hawaiian Volcanic Water (which I honestly had never heard of until I stumbled upon it while placing my Instacart order — how perfect was that?!?!!). Eat your heart out, Barbie & Ken.
I have to tell you, this was one of the most uplifting experiences I have had while in “quarantine”. Letting my creative side run wild, stumbling upon fun Hawaiian touches, finding sentimental gems like the hibiscus flowers and cocktail napkins from their wedding, incorporating pieces of my sister’s decorative collections, and tying in foliage from plants she and Hudson have cultivated in the backyard of the home they built — what a tapestry of their love it turned out to be! Much like their 10 years of marriage, woven together by God’s careful hands.
It has been a blessing watching their love, their little family and their household grow over the last decade. While they didn’t “get away” from their surroundings here in Wilmington like they had planned, my heart’s desire was that they be surrounded by the blessings of the life they have built together over the last 10 years. I’d love to take credit, but it is quite clear to me that God wanted to bless them for their faithful example of a Godly couple, and I am just so thankful to have been here, merely as a vessel, for such a time as this.
Cheers to 10 years, darling siblings of mine — I love you both so much!
PS… if they had a treadmill, I might have thought to attempt something like this (below) for when they walked in! Let’s be honest though, this gal ain’t movin’ any treadmill.