Talk Derby To Me- DIY Derby Party

Anyone that knows me knows I am the biggest fan of themed parties so when a friend suggested doing a Kentucky Derby themed party I jumped at the idea. I also love to decorate and party plan, and so the fun began…

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If you are like me and have always wanted to attend the Kentucky Derby but just can’t fathom the cost, this was a great alternative and fun to see everyone dress up in their best Derby attire. If you aren’t one of the lucky ones that gets to attend the coveted Derby and rock a beautiful floral dress and elaborate hat/fascinator, why not try an at-home version instead?

The Attire:

What’s even more important than the race itself is all the beautiful fashion that comes with it. I have to say I’m guilty for following along every year on social media only to check out the derby style with the upmost envy!

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Fascinator: Obsessions Fashion, Dress: Banana Republic

The good news is, since you will be doing a DIY version your outfit really doesn’t have to break the bank! For the ladies, you’re more than likely to find a floral or flowy dress already in your closet! The Kentucky Derby is known for its over the top hats and fascinators so having one is a must!  Finding a big floppy hat or fascinator will really top off your look! A lot of my friends bought hats from the dollarstore and then glued on flowers and they looked amazing!  For the gentlemen, wear a pair khakis or pastel coloured pants and throw on fun colour/print shirt, a sports jacket and of course, a bowtie and straw fedora!IMG_5007

My favourite accessory store (Obsessions Fashion) gifted me with this beautiful white fascinator adorned with small feather details and stunning veil.

Sips/Snacks:

I kept the food to a minimum so the focus would be on the fun games and everyone socializing! Of course no Derby is complete without mint juleps. I made a large jug of it using (Powdered sugar, Bourbon whiskey, Water, and Mint leaves  ). Add some fun straws into mason jars or traditional julep silver cups to get the real experience! Next on the food table were mini pulled pork sliders, easy to pick up and eat. The pork was cooked in bourbon bbq sauce (bourbon whisky is the liquor of the South).

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Bourbon Barrel Stout and Bourbon Whisky straight from Kentucky were the perfect touch to the bar!

AG Macarons donated this beautiful assortment of colourful French macarons that matched perfectly with the décor on the table and were to die for!

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Now to the Cadillac of cakes…this 14k gold dipped cake from The Social Cupcake is seriously #cakegoals. When I was envisioning my Birthday cake this was exactly what I had in mind from top to bottom. I cannot thank the wonderful staff for making all my cake dreams come true, it made my Birthday extra special. I had also planned to have the cake match the photo booth wall.  The first tier was vanilla cake with classic buttercream icing and the second layer was red velvet with cream cheese icing. I still cannot get over every single detail of this cake and how intricate these flowers are (would you believe me if I told you they were edible, you better believe it!

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Décor:

Once I landed on doing a Kentucky Derby themed party I started to think of décor. After googling a few images right away tons of flowers popped up and the ideas starting flowing. Thanks to Bloomingful Flowers, guests were able to capture their Derby looks infront of this stunning customized 8 foot paper flower wall. Fill a box with lots of props and extra floppy hats, etc so the guests can get creative with their pictures and have something to remember 🙂

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 I picked up this fake grass from Homesense it was the perfect compliment to the floral backdrop!

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The illuminating circle lamp was the selfie light we didn’t know we needed in our lives.

The tissue paper flowers were so beautiful and exactly the look that I was going for a (indoor) garden party!

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I carried out the flower theme with the rest of the décor, adding it to the food table along with the entrance in the front foyer.

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The majority of the decor I found from Homesense or Winners. The white horse head (Winners), Green Leaf Balls (Homesense), Faux Flowers (Homesense), Stone Containers (Homesense), Plastic Trophies, Horses, Grass, , Mason Jars/Straws, Plastic White Fence (Dollarama), “Derby” Letters and Marquee Horseshoe (Michaels). IMG_4846

I used the hashtag “Talk Derby To Me” for the night because I love a good pun. This Lightbox by (My Cinema Lightbox) is a great decor piece that lets you get creative and express yourself with fun quotes or puns to really set the mood!  The adorable faux-fur wraps for the bottles I picked up from Winners.

Games:

No Derby party is complete without horse racing! I did a simple DIY version that had guests placing bets on toy horses to win the pot of money! I bought a green plastic tablecloth from Party City and then used green tape to outline the lines of the “track”. I made 6 starting positions where each of the players horses would start. For the horses, I picked up a package of toy horses from Dollarama and spray painted them gold. You will also need 6 dice.

Each player wagers $1 (or higher if you’re feeling lucky) and then each player rolls a dice to assign a horse. Next, roll all 6 of the dice, the number on the dice corresponds with which horse gets to move (i.e 662344- the “6” horse moves two spots, the “2” and “3” horse move 1 and the “4” horse moves two spots. First horse to cross the finish lines wins the pot!

Derby themed Bingo:

I printed off a number of bingo cards that had derby-themed sayings. This was simple to do since all I had to do was print and cut and have pens out for the players! I cut one card and placed all the sayings into a hat and pulled them from there.

Horseshoes:

Unfortunately with the cold weather we couldn’t do any outdoor games so I had to improvise with horseshoes by doing it indoors. I found a small plastic ring-toss game from the dollar store and spray painted it gold. It may not have been the best game of horseshoes but it did the trick and fit the theme, which was really what it was all about!

Bean-bag toss:

I picked up this game from Homesense for $29.00, quick and easy installation and safe to play indoors if you have the room to spread out the boards.

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Safe to say I got down and derby and horsed around all night!

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Sara

Weekend Getaway- Queen’s Landing (NOTL)

On the Easter weekend (which also happened to be my Birthday) my boyfriend treated me to a weekend getaway at Queen’s Landing in Niagara-On-The-Lake (“NOTL”). Neither of us had ever been to NOTL before, so you can imagine my excitement when we pulled up to this beautiful hotel for our first NOTL experience. I mean, who could say no to staying in a magical place like this, enjoying the local shops, and to top it all off, local wine tours! It really made me feel like a Birthday princess, and every girl deserves that on their Birthday, and really, any day! Head over to my Instagram to see some posts of our stay!

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We drove up on the Friday morning (it was a holiday for most, so the traffic was lighter than normal). Typically, the drive is about an hour and half from Toronto, not bad at all for a little escape from the big city !

The Hotel:

Queen’s Landing is a beautiful sprawling historic inn that overlooks the water that blends old world class with modern amenities. We even got to take in a beautiful sunset on our last night there down by the water! The hotel isn’t on the main strip which is nice because its less busy and is a short scenic walk passing by old Victorian homes.

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(Jacket: Zara,  Sweater: J-Crew, Shoes (Tory Burch), Sunglasses (Quay Australia)

With its large white pillars and beautiful gardens it has a really inviting setting right from the drive in.  I felt like royalty the second we turned the corner and saw the wrought-iron fences and a glimpse of the beautiful grounds. Parking was right out front which was convenient for moving our stuff into the room along with available free valet parking.  There is also WiFi in the public areas, which made blogging on the go a breeze! The lobby presented guests with sophistication and charm with the antique décor and fresh flowers everywhere. There were a lot of couples coming in to check out the Inn as a potential wedding venue and I can certainly see the appeal, it’s absolutely breathtaking!

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Checking-in was a breeze and within minutes we were up to our room where a rose lay on the pillow (such a special touch!) Since it was my Birthday there was also a special bottle of wine and a cheese board in the fridge from my boyfriend’s parents, I was on cloud-nine within minutes of seeing all of this!  There was also complimentary water, which you don’t always see at hotels.

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After settling in and dropping off our bags it was off to a late lunch in the beautiful quaint downtown. Lucky for us it was a nice warm and sunny day so we walked around for hours checking out all the little shops and restaurants. We went to the Angel’s Inn for some pub-style food, it was delicious, and great drinks! I was also told I had to check out the basement as it was supposedly haunted, safe to say I went and came back pretty quick!

Downtown was bustling with tons of people coming to spend a beautiful Good Friday in NOTL. I was told it isn’t typically that busy but because it was a long weekend there were larger crowds than normal. Nonetheless, we were able to enjoyably walk around and grab food and drinks no problem.

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We came across THE cutest storefront and of course I had to snap a pic!

After walking around for a few hours we went back to the room, got changed and decided we’d head into Buffalo for a few hours of shopping! One of the other joys of NOTL is it close proximity to the border. From door to door including going through the border it took only 30 minutes!

We got back to NOTL around 9:30 pm and decided to go back to the Angel’s Inn for a late dinner since we enjoyed it so much at lunch. There was a live band and everyone was singing and dancing, it was a really fun atmosphere at night!

On Saturday we spent the better part of the day on a wine tour, visiting 3 local wineries. The wine tour started around 10:30 so we were up and at ‘em pretty early after catching a quick breakfast. Our tickets were purchased on Travel Zoo and included a trolley car style bus (think San Francisco) to pick us up, take us from winery to winery, and then get us safely home. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t the greatest that day and was raining quite heavily for most of the tour. Luckily most of them were indoors and for one we were only outdoors for a little to check out the amazing vineyard. I would really enjoy coming back in the summer to do another wine tour on a hot sunny day.

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After a few hours wine touring, our bus took us back to our hotel. After a lot of wine tastings it was time to head back to the room to enjoy our cheese platter and more wine, because why stop there? We did a nice walk around the hotel since Friday we didn’t spend much time inside the hotel. We checked out the bar and restaurant along with library, and the pool/gym facilities. We didn’t get a swim in, but it looked lovely, there was also a hot tub and sauna, I guess that just means we will have to go back!

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More pineapple spotting!

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I loved all the décor throughout the hotel, but I especially took a liking to this hallway with its palm leaves and bright white colours, I could have taken pictures here all day.

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And then I did…

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We also visited one of the sister hotels of Queen’s Landing, The Prince of Wales. This hotel was just as charming inside, with the most adorable tea-room, definitely stopping in for teatime next time I’m back!

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(Sunglases: Quay Australia, Top: Banana Republic, Jeans: H&M, Shoes:Winners)

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It was one of those Summer-like Spring days so we stopped in a local cafe for some gelato!

IMG_5225I couldn’t help but stop to say hello to the beautiful horses outside the Prince of Wales Hotel. This beautiful girl was named Cinderella, I loved her right away (look at that adorable little flower!) There were horse and carriage rides available that would take you around town in style! IMG_4604

What better way to greet a horse named Cinderella than by wearing all tulle and sparkly “glass slippers”?!

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This town is seriously out of a movie, everywhere I turned I found more and more charm!

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Never too old for tulle and glitter!

(Top: Zara, Skirt: H&M, Shoes, Top Shop, Clutch: Tory Burch, Necklace: Kate Spade)

Before dinner we decided to go down for a walk by the waterfront since the rain cleared out and it ended up being a beautiful night with a stunning sunset. It was only a few minutes to walk down and there was a lot to see along the way. I can only imagine how stunning it is with all the sail boats out in the summer. Our hotel had a wonderful outdoor patio was stunning views of the water.

We decided to take the free private shuttle that you order from the hotel that takes you in and out of downtown. I think this was a great addition, especially when a lot of guests have been out on wine tours!

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(Top & Pants: Banana Republic, Shoes: Payless, Clutch: Tory Burch)

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Couldn’t get enough of this sunset, I could’ve watched it forever!

After dinner and some more drinks (surprise, surprise) we walked back to the hotel since it was only a 10 minute walk or less and was a beautiful night to do it! The front of the hotel was beautifully lit up when we returned, what a perfect way to cap off our magical stay!

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There are 142 guest rooms within the Inn that are all furnished with luxurious bedding, a safe inside the closet along  with high-speed and wireless internet.  There was also a flat-screen t.v and a small gas fireplace (ver cozy touch.) Both the bathroom and the room itself were very spacious. With the added comfort of the 2-inch mattress pad, we slept very well!

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(Top: Urban Planet, Pajama Bottoms: Old Navy)

Sunday morning we had an Easter brunch back in the city so unfortunately we didn’t get to stick around past 10:00 a.m. It was another beautiful day, I really did not want to leave! I brought home with me my two beautiful roses that were left on the bed as a reminder of our lovely time at Queen’s Landing.

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(Dress: Winners, Sunglasses: Quay Australia, Purse: H&M)

Next time you are planning a visit to NOTL, whatever the occasion, be sure to check out Queen’s Landing, you will not be disappointed!

I can’t wait to visit again soon, thank you Queen’s Landing for a wonderful weekend getaway!

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xoxo

Sara

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