The Rich Life On a Budget

Bill’s 50th Birthday Celebration!

My very favorite person in the world is turning 50 very soon. I think turning the big 5-0 is kind of a big deal so I threw my husband, the birthday boy, a surprise birthday party!


He told me he didn’t want a party. “Maybe just a small family dinner,” he said. But I had other ideas. We already had a trip planned to celebrate his birthday but I didn’t want him to miss out on celebrating with friends and family.

I asked Daren, the assistant chief of our local fire department where Bill is fire chief, if I could use the firehouse to have the party. He was happy to accommodate my request and even offered to help out as did his lovely wife, Michelle.

I got to work right away picking out a date, a guest list and a menu. With a lot of secrets, made up stories, and tons of coordinating, the party got off the ground last Saturday. But not without several very close calls. I thought he might know about the party and was just being nice by playing along with the surprise. Only time would tell!

Michelle took over the task of decorating – so sweet of her to handle that. I love the colors she chose: green, red, blue and yellow.


Tori, Bill’s youngest daughter, decorated the big dry erase board in the main room of the firehouse. She also made brownies in lieu of cake (Bill doesn’t like cake) and a wonderful homemade cole slaw for all of us to enjoy.


Most of the guests arrived promptly at 3:00 pm. Bill had been spending the day with his eldest daughter, Kayla, and it was her job to get him to the firehouse by 3:30. Not an easy task when he thinks he’s supposed to be getting ready for a friends’ dinner party (made up) while he waits for me to return home from Sandee’s, an hour away (also made up).

When I knew they were on their way, I asked guests to assemble in the main room where we all waited. My stepson caught me in a moment of worry. Could we really pull this off? Before long, his truck pulled up in the parking lot…..


…and moments later he walked through the door to hear, “SURPRISE”, followed by a round of the Happy Birthday song.

I could tell immediately that he was genuinely surprised. All those close calls were just that…he was shocked! When I asked him if had even an inkling that I’d planned a party, he said he didn’t. It never crossed his mind that I would throw him one. Mission accomplished!


After an hour or so of mingling, we started putting the food out. I ordered pulled pork from a Santa Rosa caterer specializing in BBQ. Jim of Black Bean BBQ makes delicious ribs, chicken and brisket too as well as plenty of side dishes. The pulled pork was a huge hit. People loved it!


We also had tasty BBQ tri-tip which Daren prepared from start to finish.


It was such a thrill seeing so many of our friends together at once, all there to celebrate Bill’s birthday.


Bill’s dad came to the party too, thanks to Bill’s cousin and her husband who made sure he could attend.


There were long time friends of ours there like Rob and Gina. Rob and Bill have been friends since they were 9-years-old.


We had lots of fire department friends from both the fire departments Bill works for. Such a fun crowd!


And our friends, Jeannine and Paul, whom you may remember from the PopUp Dinner last month, came to the bash.


The party had such a happy vibe. I think everyone really enjoyed themselves!


Here I am with some of my dearest friends, including Sandee. I have been friends with each of them for at least 18 years, some longer. Lawana (in the green pants, whom you may recall from the Stella Carakasi event) and I have known each other for 29 years! And that’s Lisa of Persolé in the hot pink.


And here’s Bill with some of his closest friends from the fire department.


After dinner, it was time for Tori’s masterpiece – homemade brownies!


Blowing out his 50 birthday candles was more of a challenge than we thought it would be. Tori inadvertently bought the relight kind! Good thing Sandee was there to help Bill out!


Sandee and my friend, Michelle, both brought their corn hole games. What a fun activity! They were a big hit. And now I want a set of my own!


I am so grateful to be part of this wonderful family. And to be with my husband all these years – sharing wonderful experiences and getting to grow old with him – is a privilege I don’t take for granted. Happy Birthday, Honey!! I love you!

Thank you to Daren and Michelle for everything they did to make this party a success. I could not have done it without the both of you!


I am writing this post from Dana Point, one of several stops along the way for Bill’s birthday trip. We are in Southern California for several days and will be seeing some friends, laying around by the pool or on the beach and just relaxing!

I don’t know if I will be blogging much during our trip but I am definitely Instagramming lots of photos of the beautiful places we are visiting if you’d like to follow along.


Make it a rich day!