GALS WEEKEND FOR THE SAKE OF FRIENDSHIP!
Last year I shared a post about finding your lifelong friends. I tried to reflect my deep thankfulness for having a community of gals who encourage, support, and love me deeply. These special gals are my college best friends and we have done life together since 2012. During our last year of college we made the commitment to each other for a yearly reunion. Despite the distance, moves, jobs, and all of the things that make life crazy, we all agreed we would try our very best to reunite one weekend of the year for the sake of friendship.
We recently had our annual ladies reunion weekend. Similar to our gals weekend, it was very much refreshing to my heart and soul. Why was it refreshing? What did we do? How did we make this happen? Why should you plan a weekend with your best pals ASAP? Stick with me so you can learn about the simplicity and necessity of having a weekend with your people!
Do you know how people describe the face of the groom when he sees his bride walking down the aisle on their wedding day? And he gets all teary and is filled with excitement and love because his best friend is coming towards him? Okay I know this is a stretch, but I think a similar thing happens when your close friends reunite after it’s been a while. Obviously this is a completely different scale from marriage, but just add jumping and screaming to the excitement and you basically have the initial reunion of us realizing we get to spend the weekend together under the same roof.
One of our favorite parts of reunion weekend is the food. It’s way more than just eating really good food (which let me tell you, we eat good this weekend), but it’s the fact that we cook for each other and eat our meals at one big table together. Basically, we split up all of the meals for the weekend so that two people are assigned to each meal. The two people in charge of that particular meal are responsible for picking a menu, bringing the ingredients, and cooking it for everyone else. This creates a distribution of labor, love, finances, and responsibility for everyone. For this weekend in particular, it worked out that everyone covered two meals.
Because you guys know I love all things food, I have to share how my friends are incredible chefs and what was on the menu!
- Omelette Bar & Banana Bread (Chefs: Lo & Allie)
- The first morning sort of felt like Christmas because of the slowness, time in pajamas, and yummy breakfast. Allie and Lo took everyone’s individual orders and made us all omelettes and banana bread. This was paired with many, many cups of coffee for an amazing breakfast!
- Pancakes and Fruit (Chefs: Lo & Kaytlin)
- My love for pancakes runs deep, so when I saw Lo and Kaytlin making Kodiak Cakes for breakfast, my excitement was through the roof! We had dark chocolate and plain pancakes, topped with fruit, peanut butter, and chocolate chips. It was perfect.
- Sandwich Station (Chefs: Allie & Jordo)
- I can hardly call myself a chef for this because Allie and I just brought a bunch of sandwich supplies for this meal. This was the lunch we had right when we all arrived so we wanted something quick and easy. Thanks to Aldi for making sandwich supplies like meats, cheeses, bread, veggies, and toppings super accessible and affordable!
- Beer Chili & Cornbread (Chefs: Jordo & Leah)
- Chili seemed appropriate to pair with the freezing temperatures and snow so Leah and I whipped up a vegan beer chili. This recipe is a bit on the spicy side, but it’s really simple and perfect to accommodate DF/GF dietary restrictions! We paired this with some cornbread and tortilla chips for a lighter lunch.
- Taco Bar & Margs (Chefs: Jos & Sam)
- Let me be honest: this was my favorite meal of the weekend. I’m biased towards Mexican cuisine, and Sam & Jos pulled out all the stops for their taco bar. There was chicken, beans, rice, sweet potatoes, and every topping my heart could want including tomatoes, peppers, onions, cheese, lettuce and spinach. Adding bowls of guacamole, salsa, and chips just made it even better. And don’t get me started on the margs. YUM CITY.
- Stir Fry (Chefs: Sam & Kaytlin)
- Kayt & Sam killed it with their chicken and veggie stir fry! They bought the biggest bag of veggies I have ever seen (from Costco) and paired it with grilled chicken and rice. They topped all of that with a stir fry mixture (from Hy-Vee) and it was delicious!
To be honest, snacks/desserts/drinks were basically continuous throughout the whole weekend. Everybody brought all of these to share, but here are some I captured:
- Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake (Baker: Jos)
- Jos went way over-the-top to make us this AMAZING dessert. This cake was three layers of chocolatey goodness and I seriously give her the biggest props because I know it took hours to make! Also, we were freaking blessed because we got to have this for dessert two nights in a row.
- Snowy Margs & Wine Slushes (Chefs: Jos & Lo)
- These troopers went out into the snow to scoop up buckets so we could make alcoholic slushes. The commitment blew my mind a little bit.
- Brownies (Bakers: Leah & Allie)
- Within the first hour of us arriving at the house, Leah and Allie were baking brownies. Typical. Not only did they make a big pan of Ghiradelli brownies but also individual tins so everyone could have their own!
- Snacks not pictured but absolutely enjoyed: Boom Chicka Pop, pretzels, apples, oranges, bread, cookies, veggies, Starburst Jellybeans, etc.
- Walking Outside
- Okay we were outside less than an hour total the entire weekend. We had to get outside for at least a few minutes because we were in a secluded little house and the view was beautiful, but it was also freezing. I should also clarify that by “walking outside” I mean we ventured down a hill through the snow to the big open field, hung around for a bit, and then went back up to our house. The air was refreshing!
- Watching Movies
- Throughout the weekend we watched 27 Dresses, The Notebook, and A Simple Favor. The classic comedies, romantics, and suspenseful movies all balanced out!
I might be speaking for myself, but the rest provided by this weekend satisfied a big craving. Like most, we all live crazy, busy lives so a weekend filled with rest and care was exactly what our hearts and souls needed. The rest promoted things like emotional and spiritual wellness through activities like like reading, baths, sleeping, and prayer.
This weekend was positive for me personally because it gave me the opportunity to spend time prioritizing the state for my heart and soul. I was not only held accountable but also encouraged to spend time reading scripture, praying, and reflecting on my faith. To have a community that encourages instead of judges my walk in this way is something I am truly thankful for.
“Self-care” can look different for everyone. For some people it looks like taking baths while for others it looks like working out, not setting an alarm, or napping on the couch. This weekend created a time to do what we needed to do to make ourselves feel good.
I think I keep saying “my favorite part of the weekend was ____” and then filling in the blank with everything about the weekend. If I really had to pick thought it was the conversations with these ladies. There was so much time to not just ask “How are you?” like you do in passing a coworker, but “How are you?” like tell me the depths of your soul. And while that can intimidating because it requires vulnerability and honesty, isn’t that one of the best parts about having close friends? Having people that know you and care for you throughout your life? I think so.
For us, we spent one afternoon going around in a circle sharing about our years — all of the highs, lows, and everything in between. While that can seem like a lot and I can totally imagine some people reading this and thinking “there’s no way I want to spend a weekend like that!” let me assure you there was also a lot of joking, reminiscing, laughter, and light-hearted banter. It all balances out!
So, back to the questions I asked at the beginning of this post…
Why was it refreshing? Because it was a weekend for prioritizing the state of our hearts and souls, and creating opportunities to provide what we needed, both individually and as a group.
What did we do? For simplicity, we cooked for each other (then ate the delicious meals), watched movies, rested, talked, laughed, and enjoyed each others company.
How did we make this happen? We chose a reunion weekend months in advance and then rented a random Airbnb in Marceline, MO. Every year we go to a different place and it just so happens this year’s spot was Marceline.
Why should you plan a weekend with your best pals ASAP? For the sake of friendship! A gals weekend like this can be so simple yet so critical! Similar to our first reunion, it was filled with rest, food, soul-filling conversations, drinks, laughter, movies, baths, walks, and other random activities you can imagine that would take place when gals get a weekend together. It was very much refreshing and I will look forward to this every single year.
So: go! Text your friends and plan something now!