The Random Writings of Rachel

Themed Party Ideas for Any Occasion!

Some people are very modest about their skills. Other people go around referring to themselves as "epic party planners." I'll let you guess which category I fall into.

Here are some of the themed events for all sorts of occasions that I've hosted over the past few years. I thought it might be helpful to create a directory that leads to all of my parties, in case anyone out there is ever searching for ideas that might work for their own event.

"Around the World" Graduation Party

My cousin's post-grad plans were to spend a year living abroad with my family in Southeast Asia, so when I hosted her graduation party, the around-the-world travel theme just seemed to fit best. We tore up an atlas to make map tablecloths, stuck paper airplanes on toothpicks in all the cupcakes, and got out all the traditional Malaysian decor I happened to own. The primary activity of the party was eating, but once all the food was served, I started offering henna tattoos.

Sadness-Themed Goodbye Party

This was a very large event, with well over 100 people in attendance, so we focused less on coordinated activities and more on simply making lots and lots of food. We kept the decor simple, sticking to blue sad faces everywhere. Other features of the party included a photobooth with props and notebooks where friends could write messages to the people who were leaving.

Once Upon a Time Party

My littlest sister's 9th birthday party was themed to fit one of her favorite tv shows. The decor and menu were strongly inspired by the show, guests were encouraged to dress up as a favorite character (I chose Hook!), and we played games involving Trivia from the show.

Alice In Wonderland UnBirthday Tea Party

Small birthday party for my sister's 14th birthday. We watched the classic "Alice in Wonderland" cartoon, and enjoyed lots and lots of chocolate and cheese fondue.

"Romance" Themed Date Night

That's right, an event that was actually a date night for 16 couples. We had candles, rose petals, flowers, chocolate, strawberries, instrumental music--anything that would help make a 4-course meal a little more romantic.

Olympics Birthday Party

Angel dreamed of a family athletic competition for his 31st birthday party, and we gave him one. Eight athletic events--winners were awarded prizes, and after all that exercise, we ate colorful cookies that were designed to represent the Olympic Rings.

Golden 50th Anniversary Party

The purpose of this party was to enact a complete and total anniversary surprise for my grandparents. A very fine multi-course meal was prepared as a group effort by the rest of the family, and the decor was all gold, all the time!


There you have it--anniversaries, graduations, birthdays, goodbyes, etc. I'll keep this post updated with future party posts.

And Now, Let's Talk about Tiny Pizzas

Sometimes I get the distinct impression that this blog is in a competition with itself for the "Most Random" award. If so, I win.

Today, we're going to talk about tiny pizzas.

We were browsing the Japanese snack shop at the mall while waiting for our parents when my sisters stumbled across the section of tiny food-making kits. I had never seen these before, but they had gotten a couple kits for Christmas a couple years ago and had fond memories of making them. They'd never tried the pizza kit before and were so excited that I just had to buy it for them. It helped that it was on sale, 30% off. Nothing like a sale if you're trying to convince me to do something...but I do already have a fondness for miniatures (ever seen my dollhouse?), so it wasn't too much of a hard sell.

 Have you ever seen one of these kits or tried them?

The instructions were 100% in Japanese, which made me glad I've been brushing up on my college Japanese skills in preparation for our trip. Obviously, there's photos too, so if you're good at figuring out photos, or don't really care about instructions anyways, no Japanese skills are needed. I like following instructions and making sure I'm opening the right package, so being able to read "pizza" and "cheese" and "toppings", as well as how much water they needed and how many seconds the different items needed to be microwaved for, was helpful. Also, gave my baby sister extra amusement as I slowly stumbled over reading the Japanese words aloud....

The box was filled with these packages of powder--when added to water, they would become the various components of our meal--each component did a pretty good job of smelling like the real thing!

The outside of the plastic packet could be cut apart to make the plates and napkins for the meal.

First we made the tiny hashbrowns:

They were made in a mold which had little faces--which you can just barely see. Maybe the faces would have shown up better if these had been fried to a crispy golden brown, like authentic hashbrowns, haha!

We mixed each component of the meal seperately, followed the instructions carefully, and came up with this: two pizzas, a drink, 4 hashbrowns, and a lump of cheese on the cheeseboard.

It was kind of a surreal experience, as prior to that day, I didn't know about buying kits to make tiny food with. Sarah wanted to make an unboxing/process video for this activity, so we did. (She seems so professional, I can't help but think that she's watched a good few unboxing videos in her day!). Watch the end of the video to see our reactions to actually eating what we made. Guess which one was more edible--the pizza or the hashbrowns?

Retreating to Cameron Highlands

Six years ago, when Angel visited Malaysia with the purpose of meeting my family, proposing to me, and getting to know a little bit of the world I came from (tall order for a two-week trip, huh?), we decided we ought to show him Cameron Highlands. Problem was, his trip was already packed with sightseeing and social events, so there was no time. While visiting a cave on the mainland, however, we spontaneously drove the extra two hours to Cameron Highlands, stopped for a snack of tea and scones, and turned right around and drove the 4+ hours back to our home.

So, technically, this weekend wasn't Angel's first visit to the cool, green, beautiful highlands...but it was his first visit of more than an hour, which makes it a pretty momentous occasion.

The true reason for going was for a spiritual retreat in the highlands for a small group of teens and young adults at a secluded, inexpensive bungalow that my family has stayed at several times on past visits.

If anyone ever said that spiritual retreats can't be loads of fun, they were totally and completely proven wrong by this one.

As per tradition, we stopped first for tea, scones, and strawberries. Cameron Highlands are well-known for their tea plantations and greenhouses, where lots of fruits and veggies are grown--especially strawberries! We bought a few boxes of strawberries to take with us to the bungalow where we were staying, because we'd toted along a couple of homemade shortcakes from home and had delicious dessert plans.

Cameron Highlands are much cooler than the city where we live. For comparison, on a typical day here, Dad's car thermometer will read in the high 30s in degrees Celsius. Once we arrived at the bungalow, it was reading around 18 degrees Celsius. We were chilly! We'd all packed jackets and cardigans, but a few of us had trouble sleeping since we're used to sleeping in muggy heat, not cuddled under piles of blankets and  trying to stay warm!

Sunrises were beautiful over the hills. On Saturday, we had several educational sessions planned and organized activities, but right after breakfast, we had about an hour of free time. The more athletically-inclined spent that time playing basketball together, while other of us opted for peaceful morning coloring or the reading of books.

One of the coolest games that we put together for the weekend involved a field of lies ("landmines") that had to be defused with the appropriate application of Scripture verses that directly combated those lies with truth.

It was a beautiful weekend, filled with good food, beautiful scenery, important lessons learned, and funny memories with good friends. You may notice that the only people who appear in the photos are my own family members--they weren't all who were there, but for blog purposes, it just seems right to only choose those photos. :)

Oh yeah, the swingset turned into a place where everyone tried to perform their best gymnastics tricks. Just what everyone needs on a spiritual retreat, right? I'm glad Angel finally got to spend some time in the beautiful highlands of Malaysia...looks like the atmosphere suited him very well.

Star Wars Fashion at the Grocery Store

What's the best article of clothing you've ever purchased at a supermarket? I once had a really cool pair of red plaid ballet flats from Wal-Mart...and I got a nice black sequined long-sleeved shirt from the children's section of Wal-Mart for $3 back in the days when I was required to wear all-black outfits every day to beauty school.

From Meijer, I got the black tulle skirt I have worn frequently for years--coincidentally, it was also originally purposed so that I could have appropriate clothes to wear to beauty school...but this skirt has been awesome and I'm so glad I found it at my local supermarket.

My best grocery store find to date, however, might just be this Star Wars t-shirt from our local Tesco. It was love at first sight. Tesco usually doesn't tend to carry shirts in a size that will actually fit me, but this one fits very comfortably...but let's be real, it's not the fit that makes it awesome, it's the ten classic Star Wars characters. I'm a wrong generation for Star Wars--the originals came out when my parents were just kids, but I grew up loving Han Solo's snarky comments and R2-D2's adorable beeping. I really enjoyed the Star Wars reboots that came out last December, not least because it involved original characters so heavily.

I've written before about my general reluctance towards graphic tees in general, but I do have exceptions for graphic tees I feel a strong connection to, and this Star Wars one was pretty much perfect. If you see that post, you'll note that I prefer to wear black graphic tees anyways, so the color was in this shirt's favor to begin with. So, tell me about your favorite grocery store fashion find!

If Tears Solved Problems

I don't know about you, but I'm known to cry on a fair number of occasions. From silent tears rolling down my cheeks in a movie theater to weeping uncontrollably in an airport to shaking sobs in a worship service. When I teach about the topics closest to my heart, it's hard to keep my voice from cracking. I come by it naturally--my mom and sisters, like me, can hardly talk about anything they're passionate about without getting red-faced and choked up.

Some seasons of life have more weeping than others. If the problems faced by us and those we care about could be solved by the quantity of tears shed--we'd have no problems left. Sometimes the things that happen in life are just plain bad. There's no justifying it. I don't believe that every terrible thing that happens is somehow God's perfect will--which means that there's no comfort in tragedy. Someone you love dies. A person in power makes an unjust decision that will affect the lives of those you love. You hear that someone you know is struggling desperately just to survive. A truly good man is let go from his job for no good reason. You long for something--a spouse, a child--and the longing goes unfulfilled. Great tragedy occurs in the world and you can do nothing but weep at the destruction left behind.

A photo posted by Rachel G (@randomlyrachels) on

Tears don't solve anything. They're seen as a sign of weakness--sometimes of specifically feminine weakness. Action would seem to be a more effective option, although there are situations when we've exhausted any action that is possible to us. Sometimes all that remains are tears.

Is it possible to cry about the same situation day after day? To be just as sad about a broken situation months after you've accepted the reality of the situation? Of course it is. I've done it. It might seem more logical to cry about it once and get all the sadness over with, but there are some problems which hurt us so deeply, sadness which touches us to our very core, and those are the situations that inspire the repetitive sessions of daily crying.

I am not ashamed of my tears. I have no qualms about being in public with a red nose and swollen eyes if the situation has called for it. I don't think that weeping ought to be seen as shameful or embarrassing. Sometimes life stuff is heart-breaking, and we can do nothing but allow the heart to break.

The pragmatist in me doesn't see the practicality of tears. If the situation can't be helped, shouldn't we be content to say "I've done all I can"? But no--we cry over problems that we'll never be able to fix, problems that will never be solved in this unjust world. At some point, we have to stop. We can't always wallow in sorrow and in tears. We'll never get anything done if we do. But there is a place for weeping. There must be some value in the shared pain of crying with those we love. I believe that God sees our tears, that He knows why we cry, that He wants his people to weep in the face of injustice.

Tears are a part of this life, but I'm glad to know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they won't have any place in the next.