Browsing articles in "Party Ideas"
Sep 21, 2014

My Woodland-Inspired Baby Shower!

Yes, you read the headline correctly. MY baby shower! I’ve been a bad food blogger these past several (well, more than) months, but life has seriously changed for the better. I’m actually 34-weeks pregnant expecting a baby boy in late October! My blog has been put in the back-burner mainly because pregnancy has been a little difficult. I was extremely exhausted in the first/second trimester. I’ve been nauseous since the beginning and still taking medication for it every day. My career also has been super tiring/busy. Despite all of that though, how could I NOT post my own baby shower?

Our nursery is woodland-inspired, so it made sense for my baby shower to follow suit. I could use some of the decor from the baby shower in my nursery and get a better idea of what it’s going to look like. My husband, Jared, is an eagle-scout. He grew up camping, being outdoors. With my creative sisters, Sharon and Sheila, we took that inspiration and designed an outdoorsy, earthy, woodland baby shower. It was a beautiful and fun occasion spent with 25 special people in my life.

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As you walk into my house, you immediately see our mantel. Right above it, we placed my nephew’s handmade wooden woodland toys. We also purchased pinecones online since they weren’t in season yet. I’ve purchased items before on Save-on-crafts for my wedding and other crafty things. Shipping is a little pricey, but if you buy in bulk, it’s worth it. With the pinecones, we made a simple and delicate garland using twine.

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A party isn’t complete with flowers of some sort. Since this was woodland-inspired event, we purchased these yellow-greenish flowers at Martin’s and foliage from Kroger and placed them inside tin cans. For an inexpensive vase, we used tin cans and spray painted them a copper color. It was rustic and earthy, ideal for a woodland-themed baby shower. We placed these floral arrangements around the house at different stations and on the tablescape.

To add to the arrangements, we purchased large and small wooden slabs at Michaels and added fresh green moss and rocks that I already had in hand.

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I re-purposed these wooden frames that I used at my wedding and made instructional signs for different stations. Instead of a traditional guestbook, my sister bought a cute fox watercolor print through Etsy and used it as a “guestbook.” It will definitely be hung in baby Canfield’s nursery.

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One of the baby shower games included an easy guessing game with gummy bears. Winner closest to the number of gummy bears in the bottle would win a prize. It’s as simple as that. Meghan was the winner at a close 89! The number of gummy bears was actually 91.

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Another game we played is a favorite of mine. We played this at my sister’s baby shower. We passed a roll of twine to the guests and each would cut a piece off estimating how big I am! It’s all in good fun. Some were way off. Cough, cough Bob Kelly. Some were less than 3 inches off. But the one who was just an inch off, was my mom! Mother knows best :)

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The next game was more artsy and creative. Guests had to create something baby-related with play-doh. I picked three of my favorites as winners. Congrats to Andrea with the best-looking carrot-shaped baby bottle, Sara for her building blocks and Kara for her baby in a carriage. For prizes, we gave winners a $5 gift certificate to Starbucks along with a wooden deer ornament.

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After all the games, it was time to open up gifts. It was by far one of my favorite parts. Not because of the presents, but I had each guests sit next to me, introduce themselves, say how they know me and give any baby advice they may have. It was filled with lots and lots of laughs and pretty good advice. Here’s a photo of my sister, Sheila, surprising me with a fox bookbag.

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I didn’t make my guests go through the games and opening up presents without eating and drinking first. What’s a baby shower without mimosas and yummy brunch food? For drinks, we purchased mason jars with handles at the Dollar Tree. Pretty affordable at $1 each, and a nice favor for guests to take home as well. To spruce up the mason jars, we tied twine around the rim of the glass with a wooden name tag and inserted birch paper straws.

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The drink station, situated in my kitchen, was comprised of water, sweet tea, champagne and O.J. The champagne was kept chill in a silver bucket. Frozen strawberries and slices of lemon were also provided. We also served coffee and tea, of course.

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Oh, how I miss a good mimosa…we will meet again soon.

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And now the for the tablescape! In my dining room shelf, we placed the paper plates, napkins which we stamped with a fox, and wooden disposable utensils. The wooden utensils were purchased through Amazon.

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And there she is! My beautiful woodland-inspired tablescape! I love it so much. Exactly what I had imagined, but more. We laid burlap over the table and found a checkered-print red and gray fabric as the runner from Jo-Ann Fabric. For the tablescape decor, we continued with the foliage and greenery in the copper tins, incorporated three large wooden slabs, scattered moss and rocks around the food, and used pinecones for the food descriptions. Sharon found fox-shaped salt and pepper shakers at Target, and I already had the vintage lantern from another event I had done.

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My sister, Sheila, wanted to do a DIY waffle bar. So, that’s what we did in addition to providing other brunch items. For the waffle bar, we served Nutella, sliced bananas, powdered sugar, maple syrup, sliced almonds, chopped pecans and whipped cream. Guests could top their waffle with whatever they wanted!

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Other brunch items that we served were fresh mixed berries so guests could top their waffle or enjoy separately. Fruit was from Costco.

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I made two different kinds of quiche. Actually, they were the same, but one didn’t have bacon. I prepped all the ingredients the night before and with my sister’s help the morning of, we assembled them and baked them in the oven just before guests arrived. The quiche were a hit, I’ll definitely be providing the recipe in another post.

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A simple, light and refreshing mixed salad was served. It included mixed greens, sliced pears, gorgonzola cheese (my fav), crutons and chopped pecans. It was served with an oil and vinegar dressing.

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Last, but not least, the best pre-made chicken salad from Costco! I love this stuff. There’s nothing wrong with purchasing pre-made food. It helps with time and lessens the stress of cooking the night or day before. For dessert, which I neglected to take a photo of, I made s’mores brownies.

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At the end of the baby shower, we gave our guests cookie cutters shaped like grizzle bears to continue the bear theme. We purchased these at Sur-la-Table. And lastly, here’s a photo of my sisters and I. For a month, we planned every last detail. I couldn’t have done it without them. Thank you, Sharon and Sheila! And another big thanks to all my friends and family who traveled near and far to attend my baby shower. I will never forget it. I love you all!

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Feb 13, 2014

Kiernan’s 2nd Birthday with Funfetti Cupcakes

From the kitchen of: Sally’s Baking Addiction  Makes: 12 cupcakes
Total time: 15 min to prep, 20-22 min to bake

My nephew turned 2 this past weekend. Yes, TWO. Man, how time flies. I’ve showcased every special event of Kiernan’s life. First, before he was even born, my sister and I threw a beautiful nautical baby shower for my sister. Months later, he was born in February. Here, he had his baptism at 6 months old. For his first birthday my sister continued the nautical theme. This time though, my sister decided to keep the celebration amongst the family. A low-key event, something more intimate. So, the immediate family on both sides celebrated this adorable kid with Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken and homemade funfetti cupcakes. He wore his dad’s childhood sailor outfit, which was just adorable. Kiernan is a happy kid. He loved when we sang the happy birthday song to him, and he loved it even more when he blew out his candles. So much cuteness!

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I made funfetti cupcakes for him and he loved it! Last year, I made him vanilla bean cupcakes. Maybe next year, I’ll try a chocolate recipe.

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Before Kiernan blew out his candles, we ate lunch first. If you’re in Richmond or happen to be driving through, we’ve got the best fried chicken in the state of Virginia. Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken is a staple in RVA. The chicken is super moist and tender and the chicken skin is deliciously crispy. I will say their Sweet Tea is by far the sweetest thing you will ever taste. I cut it with unsweetened tea because it is cloyingly sweet.

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After fried chicken and cupcakes, it was time to open up gifts. What’s a birthday party without presents!? It was really cute to see how excited Kiernan was about each and every one of them. I remember last year, he could not care less about the gifts and played with a plastic hanger instead! He’s growing up so fast!

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Without further adieu, here’s how to make the homemade (easy) funfetti cupcakes. The beauty about this recipe I found on Sally’s Baking Addiction is the need of a hand whisk to make these cupcakes. No need for an electric mixer!

Ingredients:
CUPCAKES
1 and 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup yogurt (plain or vanilla; or greek yogurt; or sour cream)
3/4 cup milk (cow’s milk; or soy milk; or almond milk)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup sprinkles

VANILLA BUTTERCREAM
2 sticks of butter (room temperature)
3 cups of powdered sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
salt, to taste

Directions:
1. Prepare dry mixture.
First, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with 12 cupcake liners. Set aside. In a medium-size bowl, combine flour, baking powder, soda and salt. Set aside.

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2. Prepare wet mixture. In a large microwavable bowl, melt the butter in the microwave for 1 minute or so. Once melted, remove from microwave and whisk in the sugar. The texture will be grainy. Place in the fridge to cool off for a minute or two. Once cooled, add egg, yogurt, milk and vanilla extract. Whisk until well combined.

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3. Combine mixtures and add sprinkles. Slowly whisk in the dry mixture to the wet mixture until no lumps remain. Do not overmix. Batter will be thick. When adding sprinkles, use the edge of a spatula to quickly cut into the batter. Swirl the spatula several times to mix in the sprinkles. Do not overmix or else sprinkles will bleed.

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4. Bake cupcakes. With an ice cream scoop, divide the batter evenly in the muffin cups filling close to the top. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. After baking, immediately remove the cupcakes from the muffin tin and allow to cool on a baking rack.

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5. Prepare frosting. Last, but not least, the frosting! In a medium-sized bowl, beat the softened butter with an electric mixture for about 3-5 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar a cup at a time mixing after each round. Add the cream and vanilla extract. Continue to mix on high until you’ve reached a desired lightness to the frosting. To cut the sweetness, add a pitch or two of salt. If it’s a little thick, add slightly more cream. For a rustic finish, use a knife to spread the frosting onto the cooled cupcakes. Add more sprinkles for decoration. Best enjoyed right away!

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Jun 2, 2013

A bonfire fit for any cowboy

Last week we had some ideal temperatures. Some nights dipped down pretty low. Low enough to leave the windows open, letting that cool breeze come into the house. I live for days like those. The cooler temperature sent me back to a night back in late Spring where good friends, Aaron and Cyndy, threw a cowboy bonfire at their house. Believe me when I say that this wasn’t just any bonfire. It was THE bonfire of all bonfires. Aaron and Cyndy live in Hanover with plenty of land. He built his own fire pit on his property and gathered all the wood from his backyard. The fire pit was roughly 6 feet wide so just imagine a blazing fire with flames reaching 4-5 feet tall. It was awesome. This bonfire was too good not to share with you all. It may be too warm for a bonfire now, but fall is just a few months away!

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Look at all that wood. That’s what she said!

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Now that is a pretty solid fire. Good job, Aaron!

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Meanwhile, cornhole games were had while we wait for the fire to roar and the food to cook.

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We were able to bring our puppy, Kevin. He wasn’t allowed to run around since there was a road nearby, so he was leashed up. He didn’t like it very much and later chewed his way out, but he enjoyed being with us :)

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What’s a cowboy party without cowboy food? Jared and I were in charge of the cornbread. From Jared’s boyscout days, he camped out a lot. Fortunately, he had this huge cast iron skillet we used to cook the cornbread. I tried a new recipe from well-known chef, Hugh Acheson. We placed the cast iron skillet over the fire to heat up. We added loads of butter and once that melted, we added the cornbread batter. We covered it allowing to cook for 15-20 minutes. It came out perfect and paired very well with the chili.

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Cyndy made two types of delicious chili. One with steak and the other with chicken. Both equally as good, super flavorful and very tender. Because chili takes all day to cook, she had to prepare them ahead of time in crock pots. I don’t think there were any left at the end of the night!

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We also roasted some hotdogs which were surprisingly difficult to do since the fire was SO incredibly hot and our sticks weren’t long enough.

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For dessert, we roasted marshmallows over the fire for good old fashioned s’mores. Our friend, Kara, brought a homemade fruit cobbler that she prepared at home, but cooked it over the fire in a cast iron skillet. It came out so hot that it warmed us up on a chilly night.

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After dessert and a few more nightcaps, the fire finally died down. It was a great night with some great company. Thank you so much Aaron and Cyndy for having us over. Aaron, you certainly win for best bonfire. And Cyndy, you win for best chili. Thank you guys!!

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Mar 10, 2013

Anchor’s Away! Kiernan’s 1st Birthday

My sister, Sheila, is obsessed with all things nautical. Really obsessed. Just check out her nautical inspired baby shower we hosted for her back in 2011. She continued the same theme for her son’s 1st birthday this past February, but just styled a little differently. Sheila designed an “Anchor’s Away!” birthday party filled with sailor hats, an ocean backdrop, boats and flags all in a bright blue and green color scheme. This time around it was a little more playful for a kid-friendly crowd. For all the work Sheila put into this birthday, it’s sad Kiernan won’t remember any of it. But at least he’ll have this blog post to look back at his very first birthday party. Lets take a look at all the details Sheila created and hopefully you can be inspired for your child’s birthday.

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Most of the graphics was based on a printable kit design Sheila purchased through Etsy. Printastic Design was the shop she worked with. She first selected the birthday invitation, which set the tone. She then purchased the signage, cupcake toppers and menu cards to continue the theme throughout the party. She printed all of it on her home printer, cut them out and assembled it.

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Sheila repurposed a few things including the flags were from her bridal shower and artwork were from Kiernan’s room. Saved money on additional decoration.

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As a thank you gift to each guest, Sheila ordered buttons with cute little nautical designs on each of them. She put six in each package. The kids could pin them onto their book bags or jean jackets. They were very cute.

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Downstairs in the basement, Sheila created an ocean photo backdrop by cutting out the circles and shapes to create the waves, clouds, sun, sky and even a whale. So talented! Kids definitely enjoyed themselves in front of the backdrop posing with some props she also created like a fishing pole with fish cutouts and their sailor hats.

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As another activity to keep the kids preoccupied, Sheila also had an art table for kids to design their own sailor’s hat with fabric crayons.

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As for Kiernan’s first experience with eating a cupcake, it was picture perfect. Look at this adorable kid. His mom is blowing out his candle for him. He is licking his finger clean. I just love this kid.

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‘Do I have something on my face?’

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Kiernan absolutely loved these cupcakes I made for him. I found a recipe on Pinterest for vanilla bean cupcakes with vanilla bean frosting. These cupcakes were a huge hit amongst Kiernan and all the guests. Sheila decorated each stick with a cupcake topper from the nautical template she got from Etsy.

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Lets dive right into the spread. My-oh-my. My parents went all out for Kiernan’s birthday. First nephew = golden child. Haha. There was so much delicious food. I know everyone loved it even the kids!

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Their famous lumpia, which I’ve had a million times, will always make an appearance at any celebration.

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Pork adobo, pork stewed in vinegar, soy sauce and garlic.

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My dad’s awesome, awesome beef and broccoli.

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Pansit, the Filipino version of lo mein.

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Andddd fried chicken. Haha.

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At the end of the celebration, Kiernan opened up all of his gifts. Well actually, it was more like Sheila opening up his gifts while he played with tissue paper. He was showered with tons of toys and clothes from friends and family. Definitely spoiled! :)

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Instead of toys, Jared and I decided to make him his “First Year” book with the images I had taken of him from birth up until he turned one. Being a Moleskine fan, I saw they also create photo albums at a fairly reasonable price. I used their template online to upload the images and text. It was pretty straightforward. The quality of the book and photos were really nice. Kiernan couldn’t care less about the book, but he’ll appreciate it when he gets older. Sheila loved it!

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In the end, he enjoyed this plastic hanger. LOL.

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Happy 1st Birthday, Kiernan! Love you always!!

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Nov 18, 2012

My Only Sunshine First Birthday

You don’t have to make birthdays a huge fuss. This 1-year-old’s birthday is a perfect example of taking a simple design concept and utilizing it in all aspects of a party without blowing the budget or going over-the-top. Back in September, we were invited to Lee’s first birthday, son of Gretchen and Bryan. I swear, September and October are crazy months for weddings and birthdays. I think we had celebrated 12 birthdays between the two months! Well, birthdays for little kids are the best. They run around for a hour or so, open lots of gifts, get messy from eating cake and then pass out. Sounds like a great birthday, huh!? Lets take a look at all the wonderful little details in Lee’s adorable “My Only Sunshine” themed party.

Meet some of the important little people of the day. The birthday boy Lee in his white polka-dot navy blue bowtie, Ely taking a bite of her cupcake, Emery running around laughing and Kiernan looking like a gnome.


Walking right into the foyer, Gretchen set up a “Thank You” table for guests. She inserted lollipops in a styrofoam block for them to stand upright. The tags on the lollipops said “Thank you for brightening up my day!” Right off the bat, you get a since of what the theme was all about. All the graphic details were from Totful Memories, an etsy shop. Gretchen purchased this DIY printable party package. All she had to do was print out the labels, cut them out and arrange them accordingly. Amazing idea for those looking for a cohesive design.

Set at a different table, Gretchen provided little cards for guests to write a birthday wish for Lee. They would place their wish for Lee in the mason jar. She incorporated more of the yellow, black and white stripped/chevron design here as well.

At the mantel aka the birthday gifts and card area, Gretchen decorated the space with handmade pom-poms out of blue and yellow tissue paper and a “Lee” banner. Simply beautiful!

Of course, a party isn’t complete without food! The party took place in the early afternoon, so it was very fitting to serve sandwiches, fruit, dips and salads. It was a great spread. She had a wide assortment of cheeses, breads and meats. Guests could help themselves to as much food as they wanted. I know I had my fair share!

Saving the best for last, here’s Lee’s birthday cake and cupcakes! I just love how the cake and cupcakes were decorated with white frosting and a cupcake topper. The topper definitely stands out against the white frosting. The circle toppers either had a photo of Lee, his name or the word “one.” Even Lee’s highchair was decorated with an “I am one” banner.

Everyone sung happy birthday to the sweet 1-year-old. His mom helped him blow out his candle, but he had no help eating his cupcake. He enjoyed it so much! Thanks Gretchen and Bryan for inviting us to your son’s special day! It was a great celebration and beautifully put-together!

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