Turning 30 in Vegas, Part 1: #NKOTBPartyPlane

I all but closed this blog a few years ago. I mean, life got busy. Having a baby makes life really busy. But I wanted/needed a place to put the incredible experience of being on board Southwest Flight 3451. So, hello again WordPress. Can’t believe I remembered my password. Maybe I’ll actually take the effort to post more things these days? I certainly still bake, and that baby we had is the cutest, and I’m also in the process of revamping a sad foreclosure we bought earlier this year. Anyway, that’s later. This is now:

As a little girl, I loved the 80s/90s boy band New Kids on the Block. My big sister was obsessed, so as the quintessential little sister, I of course did too. Even as their popularity waned in the 90s and I was more punk rock than teeny-bopper, I still listened to them. As an adult, it was just nostalgic and brought me back to a simpler time. In 2008, much to the joy of 25-to-40 year olds everywhere, they reunited! My mom, sister and myself had a great time reliving our younger days when we traveled to both Atlanta and Nashville to see them. So when I was scrolling through my Facebook feed a few weeks ago, and saw that all I had to do to enter a seat on the New Kids on the Block “Party Plane” (a big promotion with Southwest Airlines to promote their run at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas) was share a photo to my Facebook wall, I mean, why not? I completely forgot that I even did such a thing. No one wins those contests anyway, right?

Well, I did.

I was sitting at my office on a pretty uneventful Monday, when I got a Facebook notification telling me that, out of about what I estimated to be over 50,000 entries, I was one of 10 winners!


Actual transcript of that crazy moment | the most glorious FedEx package

After spending 24 solid hours in denial, and convinced this was a big mean joke, it became VERY real when I had a FedEx package from Southwest Airlines on my doorstep with our passes, hotel confirmation numbers, and airline tickets.

The craziest part of this crazy story was that this just so happened to fall on my 30th birthday! So my husband and I spent the last day of my 20s traveling from Birmingham to Chicago and we mingled with the New Kids at the gate before hopping on the Party Plane to VEGAS!


Delicious Southwest Coffee en route to Chicago at 6am | Party-ready in my new three07 outfit!

I loved getting to know some of the other winners. Everyone was really sweet and funny and of course we all shared the bond of loving the same group of 5 guys for about as long as we can each remember. A lot of people don’t realize, but this was a standard Chicago>Vegas Southwest flight, so while we are buzzing around with excitement, the rest of the passengers were just wondering what was wrong with us and why we are all dressed up so cute for a 3 hour flight. They were completely oblivious, I’m sure, to the fact that there was a rotation of New Kids’ Greatest Hits on rotation in the airport’s PA system.


Hanging at Gate B11 waiting for our guys to whisk us away to Vegas! (I have no idea what to do with my hands!)

After DROPPING MY PHONE mid-selfie with Danny, I tried to regain my composure and talk to Jon. JON! Y’all, understand that he has always been my favorite. He was standing by himself over near the wall while everyone else was going bananas. I might have been a huge dork in this conversation, but I actually GOT to have one with him!


“Um, you’re my favorite. And, um, I love you. And, um, I almost got kicked out of your Atlanta concert in 2008 because I jumped a barrier to try to meet you. And, um, my mom used to play Happy Birthday that you sang to be on my birthdays. And, um, tomorrow I turn 30. Um, bye.” #NKOTBPartyPlaneBiggestNerdAward

As I’m sure you can imagine, Gate B11 and the surrounding areas went nuts when they realized what was happening. We grabbed a group shot with the guys before boarding. I squeezed in between Danny and Jon and loved my life a lot in that moment. How about how my husband looks like the long-lost 6th member in this shot?


(Photo Credit: screen grab from the official Party Plane video on NKOTB.com)

The guys were hilarious and clearly having as much fun as the winners. Jordan did the safety demo (to the tune of their 1990 hit Step-by-Step, obvi) and Jon passed out peanuts to every single passenger. I’m an educated, smart, professional 30-year-old woman, but when Jon Knight handed me a bag of airplane snacks…I just giggled and smiled like a doofus.


At any given time Joey was serenading us over the P.A. system, and Donnie bought unlimited cocktails for the entire plane.

I was devastated my big sister couldn’t join me, but Joey was lovely enough to record a video greeting for her in which he lamented her absence and assured her we weren’t having THAT good of a time without her.

And how about this VIDEO SELFIE with Jordan?! I treasure these 22 seconds of video very much. He’s. So. Cute.



I have to admit, I was a little nervous when I found out I would be meeting them. I’ve loved the New Kids since I was a little girl, one of my earliest memories was screaming “we won’t go!” at their concert here in Birmingham when I was about 5 years old. What if they were rude, arrogant, jerks who ignored us the whole time? To say that they were none of these things is an understatement. They were gracious, warm, funny guys who thrive off of being with their fans. They spoke to everyone of us, took time to take all of the selfies and videos our hearts desired, and asked us questions about ourselvesNKOTBselfes


Donnie made sure his new pal Zack Nichols was in our selfie. They are best friends now I guess.


Did I really end up on TWO New Kid Instas? Dying.


A “behind-the-scenes” of the Jordan selfie shot before he crawled over the seat to get a selfie with me…ME. 


I also had a great time talking with their photographer, Brian Babinaeu. Brian also photographs for the Boston Bruins, the Red Sox, and is a killer food photographer. Since I’ve spent virtually the whole of my career being a prop stylist, we had a fantastic conversation about photography. We even swapped info, and I’m crossing my fingers we’ll get to work together sometime, NOT because I’m a fangirl, but because he’s incredible at what he does and working on a story with him would be an amazing experience!

Fortunately, when the wheels went down at the McCarren airport, the party didn’t stop. After getting big hugs goodbye from the guys, we headed to our comp’d hotel room at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, right in the middle of the Las Vegas Strip, and we were given tickets to see the opening night of the four-night run. Follow the link to check out Part II and Part III coming soon!

Happy Birthday Evalyn!

On March 2, 2013, we welcomed the most perfect baby girl into the world. On February 27, 2014, we moved into the house of dreams. It was a sad foreclosure we called “the beige box.” A week and a half, little to no sleep, a few gallons of paint, and lots of doses of Aleve later, we celebrated Evalyn’s birthday in our new home.

Ever since I found out I was pregnant and realized my due date would be so close to St. Patrick’s Day, I knew I wanted an Irish theme. When I found out a little girl was on the way, I knew going with a green and pink theme would be perfect. And when we put our house up for sale, I knew our little townhouse wouldn’t hold everyone we wanted to celebrate with us!

Kamin Williams took some beautiful photos of the party, which allowed us to focus on the our daughter and welcoming our family and friends into our home for the first time.

First, a few details:


I set up kids’ table set-up with globes, shamrocks, and each kiddo had their own little milk jugs. The party favors packs for the kids had chocolate gold coins, stickers, tattoos, white chocolate shamrocks and other little prizes. I got almost everything on clearance after St. Patrick’s Day the year before since I knew what the theme for her party would be so far in advance! Thanks to my sister and my mom for coming over and helping me put all of these details together.


The photos clipped to the frame were taken every month in her pink Eames rocker. Each week I took an overhead photo of her in her crib on the same Aiden + Anais sheet, and those photos were strung across the mantle and bookcases. I loved seeing how much she had grown, but it made me a little weepy too! This was the fastest year of my entire life.



Since we had just moved, I was really overwhelmed and I knew we wouldn’t be able to invite every person we wanted to. We just had our immediate families, and a few friends who basically are our family. Each family took home their own “Ireland in a Jar” as our way of thanking them for everything they did for us, and every way they were there for us over the previous year and nine months!

bday4 bday5I found some huge balloons on clearance at JC Penny of all places, they were the perfect backdrop the table. A fresh strawberry cake, mini shepherd’s pies, gold punch (ginger ale and white grape juice), white-chocolate dipped Lucky Charms treats, and a few leftover white chocolate shamrocks for the guests to nosh on.

bday7Jessica Stalnaker of Empress Stationery made the most perfect invitations for us.  I think I almost cried when I first saw the proof, but I know I definitely squealed. Jessica and I worked together in magazine publishing back in the day (“the day” meaning our early 20s as fresh college grads), and I’m so proud of my girl for being one of the most sought-after stationers in the South!

But the cutest part of the whole party…the birthday girl:

bday6 Those cheeks. Have you ever? She is so sweet in her little moccs and pink diaper, and the dress (found on clearance at Old Navy!) is just short enough to show off those sweet chunky legs.


The best birthday accessory by far was the beautiful floral crown that my best pal Tiffany of Studio Flower made for her. Isn’t it great to have such creative friends?! I did the cake for her son’s birthday and swapped her this. It’s been almost 6 months still the party and I still have it sitting on our piano!


bday9For her smash cake, I just took the top tier off of the cake. There was plenty of the bottom tier for everyone to enjoy…and more than enough of the top tier for Evie to enjoy…


She in fact enjoyed it so much that….


…we all got to see it again a few minutes later. My mother-in-law was carrying her into the living room to open gifts, when her eyes rolled into the back of her head and she suddenly just puked everywhere. Every. Where. I can’t describe it. But, what can you do? We thanked everyone for coming out, then rushed her upstairs and plopped her into the bathtub.  I’m so glad Kamin snapped a couple of these photos. It’s an incident we were laughing about just a few minutes after it happened, and a story that will be told over and over again.

We assumed everyone had left, but when we came back downstairs, we were surprised to see everyone still there and were waiting patiently for the birthday girl to open her presents!



Thank you so much to everyone who took the time to celebrate this precious girl’s first birthday, and to everyone who made it possible, too. I can’t even start to tell you how much people from our church family came over the previous week to clean, unpack, organize, paint, build and install bookcases (yeah). My mom and Zack’s mom came over super early that day to help with the last few details and polish up the house a little, and my sister spent over an hour tediously cutting out 53 photos of Evie for the mantle because my nerves just couldn’t handle it!


evie034kw (1)



I wish I had photos of every person who was there! I’m sorry I don’t, but the sincerest, heart-felt thank you for sharing this occasion with us!

And Happy Birthday to my amazing daughter. I am blessed beyond what I could ever deserve with you. And perfect timing, as I’m typing up these last words, you’re waking up from your nap! That means lunch time, then the pool!!

Thirty-One Gifts. Thirty-One Reasons Why.

If I can get a little sappy here for a second, I just want to say thanks for the slew of friends and family who took the time to attend my thirty-one launch party a couple weeks ago. I was unsure if this was right for me, but I went to bed that night feeling so encouraged, supported and inspired. I’m excited to be part of this huge movement of women who are realizing their goals, and partying along the way is a pretty awesome bonus. I loved baking, mixing cocktails, and crafting favors for everyone who was there, and can’t wait to continue to meet and get to know more amazing women.


thanks for snapping this sweet pic, Courtney! | THE pink box chock full of goodies

One question that Thirty-One asks us to answer, is why? Why are we doing this?

These two are my #31why. I want time to meal plan and grocery shop so we could eat more healthy meals at home instead of picking up a fast food  2 nights (or more…) a week. I want to spend my days helping Evie learning to read and go to the park with her. I just want more time with them, and I wasn’t getting it being in a quite office 40 hours a week and with almost 10 hours a week commuting.


my sweet husband | our perfect daughter who is growing up too fast

I’m also excited about this because it gives me an outlet to be creative and connect with others who share my values and interest. There is no doubt that the products and their endless uses are providing me all kinds of creative inspiration. Now that I’ve quite my full-time job, I was able to finally organize my craft supplies, and for some reason that just makes me feel more creative, you know?

 swizzle sticks I made for my launch party | a little packaging idea to market our $5 key fobs

swizzle sticks I made for the guests at my launch party | a little packaging idea to market our $5 key fobs

I really am just so excited about this new venture in my life. I feel like it is the perfect fit for my skills and what I’m passionate about, provides solutions both financially and organizationally (blog post forthcoming about the new downstairs diaper caddy and how much I love my Hang-Up Home Organizer!), connects me with some pretty awesome people (shout out t0 Amanda, Jennifer, and all of the awesome ladies on my Team Graves Facebook page for the unending ideas and encouragement), and honestly, it’s like, really fun.

It goes without saying, please let me know if you need anything! mythirtyone.com/malindakay

Dove #RaiseYourArms VoxBox from Influenster

Dove #RaiseYourArms VoxBox from Influenster

I recently received a the #RaiseYourArms Voxbox from Influenster, featuring a full size sample of the new Dove Advanced Care Deodorant. What a great product. Apparently shaving rakes off something like 36% of the really sensitive skin under your arms, and this product helps to product, moisturize, and replenish it. With warmer weather just around the bend and breezy dresses and cute tanks to go with, I couldn’t be more thankful for such a great product!

Click the photo to go to the Dove US website and learn more.

Disclosure: This product was received compliments of Dove and Influenster for testing and reviewing purposes, but all thoughts and words are my own.