Sweet Sixteen Picnic By The Bay

2015 has been the year of surprises around here. In April, I managed to fly down and surprise my best friend for Easter. In September I surprised a friend recovering from hip surgery in Pennsylvania and spent a quiet weekend addicting her to White Collar over Trader Joe's cheesecake Also in September, I joined a band of friends pulling off the D.C. day-trip and brunch at Le Diplomate, a surprise arranged by the self-effacing Tatum in honor of Jill, the creative force behind Joodles Doodles. At the front end of November, I arranged a surprise lunch-with-friends for Mama's 50th birthday. So it's barely surprising (ah.ha.ha.) that there would be more occasions attendant upon the rest of the year. Some of you know that I live at home with my rather numerous puddle of siblings. The family is split up this way:

2 parents
3 brothers
6 sisters

The order goes:

1 brother (married, plus a baby daughter, living in NoVa)
3 sisters
1 brother
2 sisters
1 brother

Anyway. The third sister down from me, Anna, was turning sixteen and Mama arranged the absolute best surprise picnic in honor of her day. Anna is an Instagram maven, or would be if her account wasn't pretty private. She stages photos like a pro, is very photogenic herself, and is a little addicted to baby succulents and hot tea (two bags per cup, plus lemon). The female contingent of the family skipped church and snuck down to the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia Beach via First Landing State Park (which I still fondly call by its old name, "Sea-Shore State Park"), having arranged for my uncle and sister, Leah, to meet us there. Unfortunately they got there before we did and almost saw us. We had my niece, Ellie, in tow, having given her parents a night away for their anniversary, so there we go: a straggling line of packhorses (er, family members) carting a sizeable picnic and a three-month-old infant by an alternate route (i.e. not the nice board walk) to the beach so as to not be seen. I confess that as I juggled a camera bag, a box of macarons, two giant picnic blankets, and four bottles of sparkling cider, one of them fell...and I sort of christened a ship, minus the ship. Whoops. Down to three bottles of sparkling cider, we made it onto the beach and set up before Anna even noticed the strangely bustling party at the opposite end of the beach. When she finally noticed (i.e. we shouted "Happy birthday!" and waved like Bedlamites), the picnic was all ready and she was thrilled. The day was perfect too: just the slightest breeze, just the perfect temperature, just the ideal measure of sunshine, just the perfect combination of very few people on the beach and no runaway dogs. Even Baby Ellie was angelic and smiley, which is a feat for a baby with habitually painful tummy-problems. Following are too many pictures of the food, the beach, the people, and the baby. Because I firmly believe one can never have too much picnic inspiration or enough of an excuse to eat a meal outside with loveable people. Also, a million thanks to my littlest sister for realizing that I dropped my camera in the sand dunes as we made our way back to the car....

One of the top things I love about Virginia: the weather can be counted upon to be picnicable at least 300 days out of the year. <3 And guys, my niece is the cutest thing in the entire world. 


  1. Aww, your niece is soooo cute! And this picnic sounds amazing :)

  2. I follow Anna on instagram! She's great :)
    The party looks so lovely.

  3. That is beautiful, love that you did that for your sister. I have ten siblings so I understand the aspects if a large family. Awesome pictures!

  4. I'm so glad you guys had such a wonderful time! And that beach is BEAUTIFUL. Golly, I wish I lived in Virginia . . . :)