Tag Archives: party

Weekend Snapshots

Friday was a bit of an adventure in food for me. I decided that morning that I should start taking the extra effort to pay attention to my nutrition (particularly my macros) so that it isn’t super difficult for me to bounce back when baby is here.

So I did avocado on some grainy toast with sea salt for breakfast. Avocado is always a good decision. Always.

But then, Friday was also Cinco de Mayo. I had cooked dinner all week, and I needed a night where dinner came a little easier. So I loosened my grip on that whole “macros” idea from that morning…

And Casey’s taco pizza it was! Plus, Alex found liquor-free Jose Cuervo for only $2 a bottle, so I did get to enjoy a virgin margarita. Our makeshift Cinco de Mayo dinner (plus the Blues winning Game 5 of the series) did not disappoint.

Sunday was our baby shower / Alex’s diaper party … what a day! I loved every minute of it — our friends and family went above and beyond! Here are some photos from the shower.

The weather was B-E-A-utiful, the decor was whimsical, and the company was awesome. I couldn’t have asked for a better day! I am truly amazed, and so thankful for all of the love shown for Baby Audrey already. Alex and I feel so full. <3

Oh, I had to include this sweet photo of my husband and my pup snuggling this weekend, too. *heart eyes emoji*


It’s a Girl! Plus a Budget-Friendly Gender Reveal

We are having a girl! Her name is Audrey Marie, and she is growing right on schedule. At our baseline ultrasound, we got to see that she was, in fact, a girl, and we watched her move around (we hadn’t seen her since I was seven weeks pregnant!). My mom and Alex’s mom both got to see her on the ultrasound screen, too. It was an exciting day!

We weren’t able to set up a way for Alex and I to be surprised about the gender because schedules just didn’t work out, so we decided to surprise our close friends on our own. One of the ways we did that was by setting up a gender reveal party on Valentine’s Day; our friends could join us for dessert and drinks at our house after their Valentine’s Day dinners to be surprised about the gender. We were on a tight budget for the party but we still had a lot of fun; here are some tips to save some money on a great party (gender reveal or otherwise).

1. Don’t cook an entire meal. Just do dessert or snacks for your guests. Don’t throw a big party with a full meal if you don’t have to. The nature of a gender reveal party, to me anyway, feels like the stakes are much lower than that of a shower or holiday/birthday celebration, so I didn’t want to invest in feeding people an entire meal. The timing of our party being on Valentine’s Day really helped because we knew people would have arrangements for dinner otherwise.

I made gender reveal cupcakes, and I had candy and drinks available for people. That was it; I didn’t make four different types of desserts or make snack trays. I kept it simple. Moreover, I found the candy for cheap because it was Valentine’s Day. I bought the box of cake mix and icing from Aldi, and simply used food coloring to color the frosting.

2. Keep decorations simple. I actually didn’t formally “decorate.” My mom had bought a blue and pink teddy bear before we knew the gender, plus she bought those blue and pink king babies for the cupcakes. The kitchen and dining room were filled with pink and blue, and it took basically zero effort on my part. Use your food, early baby gifts, and free prints off of the internet to decorate. Another inexpensive/free option is to pick up a bunch of color-appropriate paint chip cards at the hardware store and make a banner out of them.

3. Include time for some fun games. I found some fun, Valentine’s themed “Minute to Win It” games, which cost me less than $5 to set up. Also, I had people vote for the gender they believed our baby to be, which created a little bit of fun competition between the “teams.” Games like these won’t break the bank, and they will give your guests a memorable evening.

4. Be minimal in your guest list. Because of our time crunch, we only invited a group of our closest friends. Our families already knew, and there were friends that I texted with the news. Having a smaller gathering saved me on money and time, and it felt a lot more special because we could genuinely visit with everyone.

(Would you look at that? Maybe those old wives’ tales are onto something!)

July 4th Fun & Festivities

I’m going to try something out with this blog — as I read through some of my favorite blogs, like Katie Did What and Joanna Gaines’ blog on Magnolia Market, I reminded why I wanted to launch my own blog website. I wanted this to be a space where I share our house, our family, and our adventures with the world. I wanted this to be a place where I document our ups, downs, thoughts, emotions, and experiences. From the every-day to the once-in-a-lifetime, this blog would be like our family journal and photo album.

So, I’m going to start that today. I will still blog other, more practical things too, but I want to refocus Home Sweet Hooper so that you really catch a glimpse of the ordinary and extraordinary happenings of the Hoopers.



Independence Day was on a Monday this year, which was really kind of a bummer for Alex’s work schedule. However, we very much enjoyed the extra long weekend by spending a few nights at my parents’ lake house in southern Illinois (by southern Illinois, I mean actually southern… not just south of Chicago). My family has owned this lake house since long before I was even born–I’ve never known a summer without visiting the lake at least once! At the lake house, there is so much of nature and family to enjoy, and ZERO cell phone reception, which seemed like it came at just the right time for us. Disconnecting from the world’s drama and just enjoying a hot, July weekend on the lake is the best medicine.

July 4th Fun & Festivities

During the daytime, the entire weekend was truly lovely. But it actually rained two of the three nights we stayed down there, which was not firework-friendly at all. We were able to do some smaller fireworks, but the big show just wasn’t gonna happen while we were down there.

July 4th Fun & Festivities

Every 4th of July weekend, we celebrate my dad’s birthday. He turned 53 this year; he is goofy, hard-working, and very smart, and his birthday is always one of my favorites to celebrate during the year because the 4th of July is always so celebratory anyway, that his birthday is literally the icing on the cake. Happy Birthday, Daddy-o!

July 4th Fun & Festivities

This is Rain’s second year in a row getting to explore the lake for the 4th of July. She really loves it down there… there are so many critters and plants to sniff and roll around in! This year, we didn’t even have to leash her; my parents’ pit bull, who is faithful to stay near the lake house, keeps Rain occupied so that she doesn’t wander. We brought her out in the pedal boat, and she even fell asleep on Alex’s raft with him out in the middle of the lake! Love that silly, adventurous pup.

July 4th Fun & Festivities

My favorite part of the weekend, though, was getting to spend time with my sweet grandma (my dad’s mom). She is quite the sassy-pants these days, but she’s compassionate and giggly. I think she loves being at the lake; though it is a little hard on her physically, I think she remembers all the beautiful memories she made there over the years with my late grandpa and all their kids and grand kids.



When we returned from the lake, we went straight to work putting together our first July 4th party at our new home! The back of our house faces the city park, where the fireworks are set off every year (that is, after the entire neighborhood is illuminated with individuals setting off fireworks in their own yards). Since we are new in this house, and the previous owners are not contactable for us, we were pretty much taking a wild stab that we could see the fireworks from our yard. Thankfully, we were right!

July 4th Fun & Festivities

Hours before the party started, I took a trip to Dollar General to see what kinds of July 4th supplies and decor I could find for cheap. They had cute floral arrangements, glass jars, banners, yard candles, sparklers, and outdoor string lights. I might’ve gone a little bit overboard, but these are mostly things that I get to reuse and add to each year, since we plan to make July 4th an annual party at our house!

Plot twist: when I was walking out of Dollar General with a cart full of goodies, it was pouring down rain. Man, I was bummed. Would we have to keep people inside? Would the city fireworks show get cancelled? UGH.

July 4th Fun & Festivities

Thankfully, the rain stopped long before the party started. The ground was plenty dry, and we fired up the grill! We cooked potatoes, brats, and hot dogs, and had a seriously great time with friends and family. At about 9pm, the fireworks started, and we all gathered our lawn chairs in the perfect spot in the yard. We thanked God for our freedoms and for our loved ones, and everyone left feeling full of Independence Day goodness.

I would say that July 4th is my second favorite holiday. (Halloween is my first favorite holiday… everything about it is, as the kids are saying now, “bae.”) But there is something about the summer sun, the BBQ and beers, and the historical reminiscing that makes July 4th so special. I’ll always love it, and always look forward to it.

What was your 4th of July like this year? Where’d you go? What did you do? Most importantly, what did you eat?