Friday, July 30, 2010

Shabby Chic Spa

Every year, the women on my Mom's side of the family get together for a fun-filled spa weekend we lovingly refer to as, Shabby Chic Spa. The tradition started in the mid 80's when my Grandma and her sister, Bailey, took their daughters (and daughters-in-law) to Lake Austin Spa. Over the years, as our family has grown and matured, we have evolved the tradition into a more rustic and homemade all-gal-getaway. There are 22 eligible members and this year we had a record 18 in attendance! Our weekend has its fair share of traditions including massages on Saturday by professional massage therapists, regular happy hours featuring strawberry daquiris and soul searching evening programs designed to look inward and share (optionally) with your "spa sisters!"

The weekend always begins with a Happy Hour that seems to continue throughout the course of the weekend. "It's five o'clock somewhere!"

Barbara (my Mom's first cousin) and Erica braiding Barbara's famous Challah. Her Challah is so famous, it became the theme for this year's t-shirts! This year's slogan:

Shabby Chic Spa
"One Challah'v A Time!"

... get it? :)

Jennifer (married to my Mom's second cousin), Jill (my Mom's first cousin and Barbara's sister), Emily (my first cousin), Sarah (my first cousin and Emily's sister) and my Mom all working on this year's craft project - decorating wine glasses!

These are the two wine glasses I decorated! The glass on the left is entitled, "Ode to an Aquarium." The glass on the right is a sophisticated nod to New Orleans.

Here are some of the glasses decorated by all - we had everything from dots to hearts to glue on jewels to animal print to patriotic themes!

Our Matriarchs
from left to right:
Grandma (my Mom's mom), Mimi (my Dad's mom),
Leslie (my Grandma's first cousin), and Bailey (my Grandma's sister).

We are a first name family. We call everyone (except for our Moms and grandmothers) by their first names. So Leslie is Leslie, not "Aunt Leslie" and so on. This all started with Grandma and Bailey's mother, Stella. She asked that her grandchildren call her Stella because that was her name. Stella, my great-grandmother, lived well into her late 80's and had a huge impact on my life for the brief time our lives overlapped. I loved her, and her name, and hope that if I am ever lucky enough to have a daughter, I will keep her name in mind. :)

My "generation:" Erica (my first cousin), Emily (Erica and Sarah's sister), me, Jamie (my sister) and Callie (our second cousin, Barbara's daughter). We made dinner on Saturday night. It was delicious, but way too labor intensive. Next year we'll opt for make-your-own pizza instead of grilled veggie pita pockets!

The Spa Sisters
top row: Emily, Callie, Sarah, Alex
2nd row: Karen, Tracy, Erica, Leslie, Jill, Mimi
couch: Jamie, Me, Grandma, Bailey
floor: Polly, Stephanie, Jennifer, Barbara

We bought a new sectional couch for the Ranch because the old couches had literally died. They were over 20 years old and had no life left in them. This luxurious leather sectional was awesome for our large group. (Large in numbers, not in physical size, ladies!) Every other seat had a lever that when pulled extended a foot rest for your reclining pleasure. The above picture is what happens when you are seated between two fully extended seats. Best picture of the weekend? I think so! :)

The gang sitting around our long dinner table. It is important that we are all at one table, so we push two tables together diagonally across the room and voila! Another tradition of the weekend is our version of Iron Chef. We divide into three teams (this year we were paired with our immediate family members) and are given a bag with several ingredients. Each team gets the same ingredients, but always come up with vastly differently ideas. This year's ingredients were: frozen pie crust, cream cheese, strawberries, powdered sugar, and a Heath Bar. Anything else you find in the pantry is fair game!

The above dessert was my team's creation. We took the pie crust and made braided dipping cookies and accompanied them with three different fondue-style dipping sauces. We also added the strawberry and some ginger snaps for extra dunking vehicles. The first sauce was a dark chocolate ganache with cinnamon, the second sauce featured milk chocolate and heath bar crumble and the final sauce was a lime frosting with lime zest and green sprinkles!

This year's Shabby Chic Spa was another huge success. The weekend was full of eating, laughing, bonding, crafting, baking, relaxing and more laughing. As our group grows and as I get older, I am more and more aware of how important it is to not only have a strong familial bond, but to have strong women in my life. When we are at Shabby Chic, we are not mothers, daughters, aunts and cousins - we are sisters; equals in what is expected of us and we take away from the weekend.

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