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6 Aug

Our Unforgettable RV Road Trip: Part 1

Our Unforgettable RV Road Trip

Between quarantine stress and boy-energy excess, June had me ready to drive off a cliff, Thelma-and-Louise style. Instead, my ever-patient hubby suggested we drive off into the sunset instead  – vacation-style! And that’s how our Unforgettable RV Road Trip began …

 

Yes, I said RV. As in, a 30-foot home on wheels, totally tricked out with every convenience, including a fridge for all my vegan food, to make a road trip seem more like a pleasure cruise. Not that I wouldn’t have been happy with a VW Vanagon at this point – the idea of climbing into a ‘Rona-infected fuselage was giving me the heebie-jeebies. So I did what any logical jetsetter would do. I contacted Quest RV and rented a sweet Mercedes Citation 24 ft Class C single slide for our most excellent multi-state road trip adventure (not pictured… just you wait).

RV Adventure

This wasn’t our first rodeo renting from Quest, and it won’t be our last. But it certainly wasn’t the easiest. In fact, it just might have been the hardest start to a vacation we’ve ever had. Before I lay out the deets of our epic state-by-state adventure, let me tell you about the series of unfortunate events that hit us like falling rocks before we even backed out the driveway.

It all started out fine-seeming. As per usual, I overpacked. I clearly forgot that loading up an RV is kinda like moving into a house. It certainly wasn’t as quick and easy as putting some luggage and a cooler into the trunk of a car. Nevertheless, we finally pulled out of our driveway around 2 p.m., a mere five hours later than our planned 9AM departure. With a 5-hour drive ahead of us, that would put us in Hot Springs, Arkansas just in time for dinner … in a perfect world.

MELTDOWNS AND ROADBLOCKS 

We hadn’t even made it past our zipcode when the trouble began. It started when the AC suddenly crapped out. Jason pulled over to take a look at the generator. It wouldn’t turn back on for him, so he decided to check the oil, and that’s when he noticed that it was low. He filled the oil tank up with the remaining amount from a container sitting next to the unit.

 

After he got back in the RV and turned on the generator, we heard loud noises, and our youngest son saw plumes of white smoke billowing from the back of the vehicle. I seriously thought we were going to blow up, but Jason assured us that, no, it was just the oil burning off the generator’s exhaust. Only it wasn’t. When he called to check in with Quest, the mechanic gave us the bad news. The generator was completely shot and needed to be rebuilt.

 

Feeling defeated, we limped back to our driveway to figure out what the next step would be to get out of town. At this point, Jason wanted to cancel the whole trip, and I felt like I needed a drink. Fortunately, Quest RV just so happened to have ONE extra unrented RV.

 

After convincing Jason that the show must go on, we were just about to pull out of our driveway, this time for the RV trade-out, when another disaster struck. Right before our eyes, a city construction worker driving an 18-wheeler flatbed carrying heavy machinery HIT OUR PROPERTY WALL and kept on driving. I have never jumped out of an RV so fast to chase another giant vehicle down the street on foot. I screamed and yelled and flailed my arms … with no luck. And then they were gone.

After telling our awesome neighbors about what had just happened, they were able to track down the city construction supervisor at – where else – the nearby 7-11. I guess nothing caps off a day of property damage quite like a taquito. The supervisor agreed to come and assess the damage and, sure enough, he kept his word. After we exchanged info, the Smith family was final ready to roll. It was now 4 p.m., and I couldn’t believe we were still in our freaking driveway. I also couldn’t believe that Jason didn’t throw his hands in the air and yell UNCLE! Thankfully he didn’t, so we finally left Fort Worth and started driving to trade out our RV.

It was about 6:30PM by the time we switched out our rides and coasted out of the Quest RV parking lot to officially … finally … start driving to Hot Springs. I checked MAPS and ETA was now 10:30 p.m. if we didn’t pass go or collect $200. OK, more like 11 because at that point, the boys, who had been so patient all day began demanding that we feed them. So, after a quick trip to Micky D’s, we were officially … finally … REALLY on the road. We just didn’t realize what we were driving into …

THUNDER ROAD 

As we drove further and further east, we started to see lightning in the distance. No biggie, right? Wrong. Watching the radar, I could see in real time as the digital storm blotches kept getting bigger and bigger until they swallowed the entire screen. Just before midnight – and only one short hour away from our destination –we drove straight into our own personal version of the movie Twister. Rain was now coming down in sheets and jagged lines of lightening crackled all around us. Jason wisely decided to get the heck off the highway. We pulled into a gas station in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, and parked our RV next to a cinder block shed in the back lot of a gas station, the safest option available at the time. There was nothing else to do but hunker down and wait it out.

The straight-line winds blew our massive RV around like it was a see-saw. My heart was racing. It was loud. And then a transformer near us blew. The whole area lit up with a blinding flash of light. You could see all of the power lines bouncing around and whipping up and down over us, and then it was pitch black. Not a glimmer of light all around us except for the eerie illumination of lightning. Finally, the storm passed by us, and we were, yet again, on our way. I felt like I was holding the Bingo Card of Doom and I had just checked the box for “Biblical-Level Storm” – along with Pandemic, Car Trouble, and Home Disaster.

OK, so the good news was, we finally arrived at our destination in downtown Hot Springs, Arkansas. The bad news was … literally everything after that. The hotel couldn’t accommodate parking for our RV, so we had to park at the Visitors Bureau five blocks away. No problem, I thought – we’ll just take an Uber! Nope. I guess Uber drivers in Arkansas need their beauty sleep, because there isn’t a car service to be found after midnight. I hope at least someone was awake at that hour, because they would have gotten a good laugh watching our exhausted family of four schlepping all our luggage down the deserted streets in the dead of night. 

 

It’s always wonderful when everyone in the family can agree on something. And we all agreed that this was by far THE WORST TRAVEL DAY we have experienced. Thankfully, this was literally the darkness before the dawn. The next morning, the sun rose, our moods improved and we truly embarked on what was to be an UNFORGETTABLE RV ROAD TRIP that took us to Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and back home to Texas. Stay tuned for Part 2!

24 Jun

Plan the Perfect Girlfriend Getaway in Six Steps

I HAD to plan the perfect girlfriend getaway because if Beyoncé has taught us anything it is that girls rule the world – my world, at least. I’ve always been a girls girl. I am a daughter, a mother, a sorority sister and a diehard appreciator of and believer in women. If the Pink Ladies were real, I’d be wearing my pink satin bomber jacket every. single. day. 

So when I decided to throw a party to celebrate the girlfriends that supported me in my SoFortWorthIt journey, I went all in. My idea: Hosting a girls-only getaway at our family lake house on beautiful Lake Texoma. Thank you to Captain Merle for driving this boat of boss babes. 

The goal of the weekend was to have fun, of course, but I also wanted it to be a ginormous “Thank You” to my girlfriends  — the ones who have been by my side. The one who have always shared, liked and followed, the ones who have cheered my successes, wiped my tears and welcomed me into the blogger world. Since my love language is acts of service and gift giving – I am the daughter of Next Level Hostess Carol Dunaway, after all – you know I had to make it EXTRA.

The weekend getaway I gifted to my girlfriends may have been a tad over-the-top, but the steps I followed to plan it could not have been more basic. No matter your budget or your timeframe, if you want to show your own squad some love, I share with you six easy steps to create a foolproof party plan.

1.  INVITATION

I have always believed that the invitation sets the tone for a party. And depending on the occasion, this is one place I love to go all out, because I get to express my love of entertaining and being creative. Hell, I’ve got to put that SMU art degree to some use every once in a while!

When designing a unique invitation, the first thing I do is figure out how to create my look as inexpensively as possible, so I hit the dollar store to gather ideas and to buy the necessary budget-friendly party items in bulk.

For this invite, everything revolved around the idea of a straw bag filled with beach gear. Thanks to the dollar store, I picked up a collection of vibrant totes, colorful flip-flops, fluffy towels and fun sunnies. I added little bottles of bubbles, tubes of sunscreen and glitter paper tags with satin ribbon and a little assist from Byrd + Bleecker and voila! An unforgettable invitation that’s useful, too!

2. GOODY BAGS

You can’t invite people to spend the weekend with you and not have some sort of gift for them. It doesn’t have to break the bank – it’s the thought that counts. My favorite spot to place a gift is on the guestroom pillow. Even high-end hotels know that even something as small as a mint on the pillow makes people feel appreciated.

For my girlfriends, my pillow treat was a goody bag filled with fab things. I worked with Mulholland and Company to design Wave Hog sunglasses straps and T-shirts, and of course I added some beauty products to the mix. My amazing friend Autumn brought the “Oh Shit Kits” for the guest amenity bags. Everything you needed for a weekend of drinking was in that bag! (will list items) –which is a great segue into the next topic.

Girls_weekend-goodies-6-lo-res

3. GIRLDFRIENDS WARDROBE

Lord knows I love a party with a theme. Whether you tell your friends to wear something specific or give them a prop or even a custom T, nothing gets guests into the mood quite like party wear.

Thanks to fashion entrepreneur Sheridan French we were almost all matching. Caftans are the ultimate in cocktail couture, but they’re also amazing as après-swim coverups. Perfect for a weekend on the lake!

4. YUMMY FOOD

While some people put an olive in a martini and call it dinner, my girl gang loves to eat (and let’s get real, so do I!). Food is always the heart of any celebration, and I always like to go the extra mile for my guests, whether it’s serving something special like Marky’s Caviar, Champagne (my favorites!) or just putting the Oreos in a crystal bowl.

It’s always a challenge to provide for a group, and for my party, I took the easy route and brought my chef to the celebration along with a local server.  This took the burden of prepping and serving off of me and gave me the ability to relax with my friends and truly be present. For me, it was all about an effortless weekend, even though there was a ton of effort that went into it.

The menu Chef Marissa created was incredible, and since it was my party, you know I made it “Christy-Dietary-Restriction-Friendly.” (Think Vromage vegan cheese on the cheeseboard.) Chef Marissa prepared so many tasty vegan options, that I caught many of the ladies partaking in “my food” versus the “real food.” Which just proves that if you do plant-based food right, no one will ever notice.

Girls_weekend-61-lo-res

I am a superfan of party theme cookies, and I love having edible creations at each of my events. For my best girlfriends, I called on the ubertalented Karen Wade of the Velvet Crumb to create hand-stenciled painted cookies that were not only yummy, they were helpful – I used them as place cards.

5. EVENING ENTERTAINMENT

Drinking is fun, but at some point, you have to have a plan that goes beyond popping a cork. Evenings are the perfect time to unveil that plan, and after-dinner activities are my jam. It helps the evening last a bit longer and it staves off any kind of after-dinner lull. Here are the activities I planned for our days at the lake:

Left Right Center

This gambling dice game is action-packed and always results in oohs, aaahs and screams. It doesn’t hurt that someone ends up with a big pot of money at the end! To smoothly orchestrate this game, I asked everyone to bring $20 in cash (or Venmo! I’m a modern girl after all!). I came prepared to turn all those crisp ATM bills into stripper cash – meaning $1 bills, y’all. Thinking through the process in advance allowed for an organized game of LRC. We play this every Christmas with our family, and it has now become a Smith Family tradition.

Merry Christymas (Get it?)

I thought it would be fun to host a “Merry Christymas” gift exchange as a way to show my appreciation to my friendships with this great group of women and to also, I won’t lie, have a little shopping fun myself.I scoured my gift closet, the ‘net and even did a little local shopping to curate a collection of treats that ranged from really funny to really luxe. I provided all the gifts, and everyone drew numbers, just like a traditional holiday gift exchange. If you know me at all I do like a splash of dirty in my martini, with my girls of course! Here were a few of my favorite sussies I scooped up for my crew. Warning: There’s a hint of dirty in this martini! 

6.  GIRLFRIENDS DANCE PARTY 

“All right stop/Collaborate and listen … !” That Vanilla Ice ditty is timeless, and IMHO it never fails to get your girl gang going. It’s all part of a kick-ass playlist – a must-have at any party. I always go for the Old School, but if you’re a Belieber and your friends are, too, I say go for it. 

Girls_weekend-243-lo-res

I loved pulling out every stop to celebrate my girlfriends at our epic Thank You Weekend Lakehouse Getaway, but I hope you know it doesn’t matter how much you spend or how much time you can afford to take, what is in your heart and who’s close to it is what matters. We as women spend so much time criticizing ourselves. It’s time we gave ourselves some love and shared our appreciation with the women who support us, guide us and give us life. It’s about sisterhood, uplifting women, giving back and loving on each other. Satin jackets or not, we are all Pink Ladies!

SoFortWorthIt GIVEAWAY!

To all my Girls Girls out there and the Mrs. Ropers, too – who wants to win a Sheridan French caftan?

Enter below for your chance to win!

5 Jun

Father’s Day Gift Guide

father's Day

Father’s Day has never been forgotten in my household. We like to celebrate the men. However, Jim Dunaway and Jason Smith have become increasingly difficult to shop for. What do you get the man who has everything? The man who is outdoorsy? The foodie? The tech nut? This list will give you an option for each type of father. Enjoy!