Browsing articles in "Party Ideas"
Nov 21, 2011

Party Inspiration: Ahoy, baby shower! A nautical-chic brunch for my sister

Here’s what happens when three creative sisters plan a nautical-chic brunch baby shower. My sister, Sheila, is expecting in February. Yay! She’s having the first grandchild on my side of the family so needless to say, my parents and siblings are little excited. Sheila’s twin, Sharon, and I hosted the shower at my house in Richmond, Virginia. I came up with the nautical theme because it was the same theme as the nursery. Sharon developed the color scheme and the flags idea. She was inspired by her trips to the Newport, Rhode Island known for their nautical lifestyle and hydrangeas. Sheila painstakingly made the the flag banners that hung in the living room and dining room ceilings, and the rest of the decor were drawn from that. I, of course, came up with the food menu. I wanted to keep it a fairly traditional brunch menu incorporating my own style. It was a collaborative effort overall and I hope you enjoy!

The Welcome Aboard anchor was purchased through Ebay for $20. It greeted guests at the door! That’s the proud and happy mother-to-be, our sister Sheila.

As you walk in, the guest favors sat in a basket. We gave away a star necklace purchased from Forever 21. Guest could choose a silver or gold necklace. Each were placed in a small muslin bag stamped with an anchor. The muslin bags were purchased through Celestial Gifts and the anchor stamp by Dragonflybuzz through Etsy.

This was the non-traditional guestbook. We purchased an anchor print from Monorail Studio on Etsy and had guests sign their names with a blue pen Sharpie. The signs for each station was designed and printed by me. They were framed them using 99 cent IKEA Tolsby frames. Sharon made the mini flags in the mason jars. She used fabric scraps to make the triangles and glued them to the flat wooden sticks purchased from the craft store.

The flags were the anchor to the nautical theme baby shower. It was the inspiration. Sheila (the pregnant one), made all the flag banners by hand. She purchased a variety of fabric from Jo-Ann’s Fabrics. Sheila traced out all the triangles, we helped cut them out, and then Sheila spent weeks sewing all the everything together. It ended up being over 25 yards long! They came out perfectly. Etsy, eat your heart out!

The flowers used throughout the baby shower were hydrangeas placed in mason jars. The hydrangeas were ordered through Kroger. We rented 2 high cocktail tables with white linens and 25 chairs all from The Prop Shop in Richmond. I used this vendor for my wedding as well. I just love how professional they are!

We played three games during the baby shower. At the first baby game, guests would guess how many sour patch kids were in a bottle. Laura, their long time friend since Freshmen year of college, won the guess with 68. There were 70 pieces in the bottle. She won a nautical beach bag!

There’s my other sister, Sharon, looking for the winning number. She and Sheila are twins!

We also played a game in which each guest had to make a baby out of playdoh. Much harder than you think! Sheila selected the best two out of the bunch. Winners were Kristal with her talented art teacher skills and Andrea making twins!

The last game was to guess how round Sheila’s baby bump was. Each guest had to cut a string and then measure how close they were. Brittany, Sheila’s sister-in-law, was the winner! She was pretty accurate with only being less than an inch right!

As you walk through my house, people can go in the kitchen to get a drink. The drink station was situated right in the breakfast nook. We served Prosecco, orange juice, Pellegrino and water. I also had lemon and frozen strawberries to serve as ice. All the plastic utensils and plates, napkins and paper cups were from Party City.

I just love this station. People can make whatever drink they wanted. They can add a little Prosecco or a lot. It allowed guests to pick their poison throughout the event.

The frozen strawberries were a nice touch. It kept your drink cold and you can eat them after they defrosted! I’ll show you later on how to easily prep them the night before.

We also had a coffee and tea bar on the other side of the kitchen. We had all the fixings to make your coffee or tea how you like.

And now here is our beautiful, beautiful tablescape. The flag banners hung over the table. The wooden steering wheel was purchase at Hobby Lobby. The vintage turquoise mason jars were found at Susan’s Selections, an antique consignment shop in Richmond. All the white serving plates and bowls from my collection.

That is one good-looking table! Gorgeous!!

The cheese platter consisted of white cheddar, blue cheese and French brie. It was served with water crackers.

Mixed berries of strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries served with mint-flavored sugar, which I’ll show you tomorrow!

Mixed spring salad dressed with blue cheese, pear slices, croutons and sunflower seeds served with an olive oil and vinegar dressing or ranch.

I served my roasted fingerling potatoes with a Chipotle dipping sauce. I also served chicken salad with avocado on a slice of artisan white bread. As well as, smoked salmon with cream cheese on a slice of artisan wheat bread. Presentation is everything!

These mini frittatas were a Giada recipe, but I changed it up a bit a bit adding gruyere cheese and replacing ham with pancetta.

For dessert, I served my super easy s’mores cupcakes. We purchased the mini flags from Darling Loves Dapper on Etsy. We ordered both navy and mint green stripped flags.

Thanks for all of those who attended Sheila’s shower! I know she appreciated all the love and support you have given her. I certainly hope that this baby shower will inspire you to be a little creative for your next event!

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Nov 2, 2011

A Wedding in Tide’s Inn Resort

Ever since I got married, I’ve been intrigued by wedding photography. Every day during the planning process, I would look at wedding blogs and magazines for ideas and saw some absolutely beautiful photographs along the way. Wedding photography has certainly come along way and it continues to interest me every day.

I got the opportunity to help shoot my husband’s cousin’s wedding a few weekends ago. Knowing I have very little experience in wedding photography, I literally just went for it and took as many shots as my little sandisk could hold. Yes, I was certainly worried that I would mess up or not get a good shot, but I think I walked away with more than a handful of some really nice photographs. Please let me know what you think!

I started the morning taking some photos of the beautiful bride with her two bridesmaids getting ready at their bridal suite. It was a beautiful sunny day after the clouds cleared up. The outdoor ceremony took place on the croquet lawn and the indoor reception inside the Tide’s Inn Resort in Irvington, VA.

Vicky, you are super photogenic girl! Beautiful!

I took some photos of the girls right by the bay. Tide’s Inn Resort overlooked the Chesapeake Bay so the backdrop was pretty stellar.

After taking some photos on the pier, it was time for the ceremony. I love Vicky’s smile as her Dad hands her off to Dan. I’m also pretty happy I got their first kiss as husband and wife! Go me!

This was taken inside the resort minutes after the ceremony. This has got to be my favorite photo of the whole day.

And of course, I had to take some photos of the food. This IS a food blog! We were served a plated meal. We enjoyed a pecan, feta, tomato salad which was super delicious. All the veggies were very fresh. Followed by our main course. I had the crab cakes, while Jared got the beef. I think I won with my selection because those crab cakes were on point. I ate every bit of it! But then again, Jared loved his beef dish. He ate all of it and his little cousin’s too! Probably needed it since I had one too many gin drinks, and he had too many whiskey drinks. Lets not forget the homemade cupcakes by the groom’s mom, as well as, a lemon wedding cake!

And lastly some photos from the party, um also known as, reception. I had a fabulous time photographing your wedding, Dan + Vicky! I also enjoyed being a guest—drinking, eating and dancing! Welcome to the family, Vicky!

Four handsome lookin’ cousins.

A wedding isn’t complete until you end the night with one of these shots…hahaha!

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Nov 1, 2011

A country-chic inspired tablescape

I know you missed me. I’ve been MIA for about two weeks now. Things have been a little crazy at home so please forgive me! Well, I’m back with lots to show you this week. I am super excited to show you a party inspiration today photographed and styled by the oh-so-talented, Korie Lynn of Korie Lynn Photography. I absolutely love her style of photography. Just check out her Berry Team Time Brunch party inspiration I showcased a while back, plus her blog full of beautiful weddings. For this inspiration, Korie Lynn and Jane, a talented florist, put together this country-chic inspired tablescape filled with lush florals and greenery, DIY ideas and easy decoration details. Please take a look at this beautifully done photo shoot and hopefully you’ll become inspired for your next party. I know I was!

Using burlap and a striped runner does wonders for a plain Jane wooden table.

Who doesn’t love apple butter? I love the idea of giving away homemade favors. It’s charming and simple. I love how Korie Lynn tied a piece of striped fabric around the rim of the jar to coordinate them with the table setting. Perfect!!

The dinner menu was just a simple plaque from Hobby Lobby that was painted. They used several different vessels, jars, and glassware to fill up the tablescape and add dimension.

Don’t you just love the table number?! I just love the little details this tablescape. It truly makes it personal. According to Korey, she printed out the number to the size she wanted. She laid it on top of a plaque and carefully marked the outline of it with nail indentations into the wood. When she removed the paper, she could see the marks and knew just where to put the nail holes. She spaced out the nails just enough so she could comfortably wrap wire around each one. She used an entire 24 yard spool of wire for just this number. YIKES! But, definitely worth it!

Another cute detail were the place settings marked by the guests’ dessert; candy apples! Little flags were added to each stick with washi tape that matched the table runner. And the flags were stamped accordingly using an alphabet stamp set.

Thanks you again to Korie Lynn for allowing me to showcase your beautiful country-chic tablescape. I love your work! Keep ’em coming!

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Sep 7, 2011

Make-Your-Own-Pizza Party

A few weeks ago, my girlfriends from college and I, with our significant others, got together for dinner. Instead of going out to eat, we decided to save some money and try making dinner at home. Meghan graciously offered her place for a night of pizza making! We had decided to have a make-your-own-pizza party where each couple was responsible for bringing a component to making pizza. Joe + Ellen brought veggies and homemade pizza dough, which was a family recipe. Meghan + Charlie made the homemade pizza sauce and meats. Lastly, Jared + I were responsible for bringing the cheeses. We drank some beers, assembled the pies, had some laughs and enjoyed eating homemade pizza from scratch. Take a look at the photos from that night, and hopefully you and your friends will try this relatively cheap dinner party idea. The pizza dough and sauce recipes follows. Enjoy!

Thank goodness Joe and Ellen were responsible were bringing the pizza dough. They could have gone the easy route and purchased already made dough from Trader Joe’s, Walmart or even at a local pizza joint, but since Joe and Ellen LOVE to cook as well, they made the pizza dough. Here’s Joe slicing the dough to six equal parts.

As promised, Ellen allowed Pretty Tasty Things to showcase her dad’s recipe for homemade pizza dough. Thank you Ellen and Mr. Ahearn! The pizza dough was delicious!

Pizza Dough Recipe

1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
1 package of yeast
2 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoon salt
4 cups flour
2 tablespoon crisco

1. Mix water and yeast together in a small bowl.
2. Mix the dry ingredients together and then add the water/yeast mixture.
3. Knead and add flour or water so that the dough isn’t sticky.
4. Knead in the crisco.
5. Put it in a greased bowl with a towel over it and allow to rise for one hour (works best in a warm and dark place, but doesn’t really matter). Dad’s recipe says to preheat oven to 450° and cook for 20 minutes, but start watching it at 15.

Vegetables are definitely a must for pizza. Ellen and Joe also brought all the veggies, which included a red onion that Joe sliced very thinly, green and red bell peppers, jalapeños, olives, mushrooms and artichokes. I think I used all of those vegetables on my pizza. I definitely loaded mine up!

Jared and I were responsible for bringing the cheeses. We went all out and brought a variety of cheeses used for both red and white pizzas. We brought mozzarella both shredded and fresh in a ball, feta, ricotta and Parmesan cheese. Don’t forget to bring a microplane grater for the Parm. Great investment if you don’t already have one.

Meghan and Charlie were in charge of the pizza sauce and meats. Even though Meghan spent a little more money on preparing the pizza sauce from scratch rather than buying something pre-bottled, it was totally worth it. The pizza sauce was out of this world. They found the recipe on The only thing they opted from the original recipe was anchovy paste. Despite that, the sauce had a lot of flavor without being too sweet or spicy. They also brought the meats, which included pepperoni and ground sausage.

Pizza Sauce Recipe

1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
6 fluid ounces warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons honey
3/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
salt to taste

1. In a small bowl, combine tomato paste, water, Parmesan cheese, garlic, honey, onion powder, oregano, marjoram, basil, ground black pepper, cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes and salt; mix together, breading up any clumps of cheese.

2. Sauce should sit for 30 minutes to blend flavors; spread over pizza dough and prepare pizza as desired.

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Aug 17, 2011

A Summertime Picnic

If you’ve thought about surprising you’re beaux with a romantic afternoon, but have been creatively drained, you’re in luck! Michelle Repici of Meringue Design styled a lovely romantic picnic set-up that appears to be a huge burden to set-up but in reality is “easy peesy.” Michelle and Lisa Marie of Sweet Tea Photography collaborated on a cute and fun summer carnival inspired tablescape shoot. They wanted to create a special and intimate spot for a couple to enjoy a snack or romantic meal. Their set up could be used for many occasions like an anniversary, birthday, engagement, or engagement portrait session. With the temperature cooling down a bit, find a romantic spot underneath a tree and set up this Summertime Picnic.

They used a red and turquoise color scheme to compliment both of their personal styles. Lisa Marie loves romantic pastels, clear palettes, blues, and greens, while Michelle loves rich vibrant colors with lots of patterns and design. The colors certainly complimented each other and brighten up the mood.

I love the feeling of these photographs. It feels as if there is no one else in the world besides the two enjoying the picnic together.

The beverages served were Boylan’s Creamy Red Birch Beer, which were purchased at Buzz Bakery in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia. The soda is actually made with real cane sugar.

The snack spread included strawberries, raspberry candies, cookies, and red and white swirled lollipops to match the theme.

For a fun DIY project, try making flowers out of cupcake wrappers of any color. The streamers on the back of the seats were made of folded doilies to give the chairs a special touch. All of these decorations are easy to make and can make any occasion special. Of course, they do take a lot of time and patience but they are perfect for adding a splash of something fun.

Perfect cookies to go along with this perfect Summertime picnic. Love the vibrant red centers of the cookie. Wishing I had the recipes for these!

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