September 27, 2009

August 30, 2009

Tea Time for Baby - and a Shower for Mommy: A Tea Themed Baby Shower

One of the biggest trends this year in showers (both bridal and baby) are tea parties. They are girly and fun, can be done on an extravagant or lean budget, and who doesn't love those cute little sandwiches.

When we first started planning a baby shower for a good friend who was an avid tea drinker, a tea party seemed like the perfect fit for the mama to be.

After a debate about whether the party should be an intimate garden tea party at a hostess' home or a more extravagant affair at a local hotel - the verdict was out - and the local hotel was the winner. Although the price tag was a little higher than the garden party alternative, we didn't have to worry about most of the details. Also, one important detail in a tea party is the china - which can be expensive to rent - so a home fete was not necessarily going to be that much more budget friendly.

When we split up the few tasks left to do, I was very excited to be on the centerpiece team. Because the tables would be crowded with beautiful china and tea trays, we decided to keep the centerpiece small-scale.

Because the mama to be was expecting a little girl, I thought it would be a great idea to find a kids tea set for her little girl, and use the tea set as the containers for the centerpiece. Call me sentimental, but I got a little teary eyed at the idea of the little girl playing with the tea set from the shower. Luckily, one of the girls on our centerpiece committee was an expert in tea sets. Apparently tea sets go like hot cakes in most of the tea specialty stores, but she was able to find this great set online:

We filled each of the pieces from the tea set with an assortment of pink flowers. We also had some additional bud vases filled with pink flowers to add some additional color throughout the room. The flower choices were a bit limited because of the small size of the tea set - but we were really happy with how they came out. The mother to be loved the tea set for her daughter, and the centerpiece was a real hit.

(I also think the tea set centerpiece would work for a bridal shower. If the bride to be registers for a tea pot or tea set you can purchase the item from the registry as a gift and also use it as the centerpiece. Using a bigger tea set would actually be easier because you would have more flower choices.)

Of course, the centerpieces were only heightened by the presentation of all of the amazing sandwiches and pastries that were laid out across the table by the hotel.

Hubby's 4th or 34th Birthday Bash?

My husband was not looking forward to another 30-something birthday. I am a firm believer of celebrating life whenever you have the opportunity. My husband does not always share this philosophy. Until the very last minute, he was determined not to celebrate his birthday at all. That is, until three days before his birthday, when he had a change of heart and decided he should have a party after all.

Although there was not much time to plan the party, I wanted to do something special for my husband. Because he was feeling "old," I decided to throw him a kid's party. With less than 72 hours to go until showtime, I rented a spiderman moonbounce, a cotton candy machine, and a popcorn machine. I also ordered 100 balloons in red, yellow, and blue. The spiderman carnival theme was beginning to take shape, and I figured the remaining details could be handled the day of.
After making my rounds to a party store and several grocery stores the morning of the party, everything was set. I settled on a low maintenance menu of assorted snacks:
  • Cheese and crackers

  • Bruschetta
  • Veggie and chip platter with onion veggie dip
  • Pigs in a Blanket
  • Chips with salsa and guacamole
  • Trail mixes
  • Nuts
  • Pita chips
Of course, the biggest hit was the cotton candy machine. Everyone had fun making their own.

The popcorn machine was also a lot of fun. There was a miscommunication as to whether the rental came with popcorn bags - but some extra plastic cups served as a quick fix.

Although I am not typically a huge fan of balloons - I think they are a great decor element for birthday parties - especially kids birthday parties. We grouped balloons into bouquets and placed them around the party, and used them as centerpieces. We then let the rest hang inside a covered patio to create a festive feel.

In addition to using balloons as centerpieces, I also decorated the tables with some spidey confetti and spidey bubbles and paddle toys.

When it came to placing the loose balloons, I tried to place them around the tables so that when you were sitting down, you weren't trying to swim through a sea of ribbon.

The moonbounce got a lot of action and was also a big hit. It really brought out the kid in all of us, and I highly recommend it for an adult party! We also had a spiderman pinata - which I also highly recommend!
Lastly, we had a ping pong table - which also got a lot of play.

All in all it was a great night, and my husband did not regret celebrating another year. Mission accomplished.

May 10, 2009

Mother's Day Brunch

Although the world has been spinning for a week now (thanks to a fun case of vertigo), I was really looking forward to preparing Mother's Day brunch for our families.

The Breakdown:
The Decor

I didn't have much time to plan the brunch, but I knew I wanted something "girly" - pinks, lavenders and green. I found orchid stems at Trader Joes, and they were the perfect color - and I knew exactly what I wanted to do with them:
I had always wanted to submerge orchids in a large vase. I ran all over town looking for the perfect vase, and was delighted to find these on sale at Target.

Lesson learned: simply placing the orchid in water does not work. The orchids won't all face out in the glass, and when you go to adjust the flowers, the water overflows from the top. I filled the water part way (so I wouldn't damage the flowers later), and I placed each orchid so it was facing out. If there was a "bald spot" I would cut an orchid from the main stem and rearrange.

In the middle of the vases I placed wheat grass (raised on a box hidden under the tablecloth). I then sprinkled orchids on top of the grass. In a perfect world, I would have used flower tubes - but I couldn't find any and I didn't have time to order them online. Luckily orchids are pretty sturdy flowers, and they lasted the entire party.

I wanted to hang some orchids from the chandelier over the table, but it didn't end up looking right, so instead, I sprinkled some orchids around the buffet table.

I made some additional arrangements using spring flowers in shades of pink and lavender, and spread them around the room.

In order to add interest to the buffet table, I used cake stands and boxes to raise various dishes.

I wrapped silverware in white napkins, and stacked them on a plate. Instead of using napkin rings, I tied each napkin with ribbon. The entire spool cost me $3, which is about the price of one napkin ring - and I was pretty happy with the results:

I used a similar ribbon as an accent on the champagne glasses:
The Brunch Menu

I tried to come up with a menu that was true to brunch - part breakfast, part lunch. It was hard to come up with lunch items that flowed with the overall menu, but I eventually decided to go with more breakfast less lunch (with a couple items that could arguably double for both). I strongly believe that any brunch menu must have mimosas or Bellinis - but I also tried to come up with some options for the kids.
  • Bellinis
  • Mimosas
  • Champagne
  • Sparkling Apple Cider
  • Orange Juice
  • Orange Mango Peach Juice
  • Milk

  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Hot Chocolate

  • Spinach quiche

  • Honey swirl yogurt

  • Fruit kabobs

  • Hash Brown Frittata

  • Candied french toast bites

  • Chocolate banana bread

The Dessert Menu
  • Ice Cream Bombe (alla Barefoot Contessa)

  • Chocolate Covered Strawberries

  • Baklava (alla Trader Joe's)

  • Assorted chocolates and candy

One Last Idea
I was planning on adding pictures as an element of the decor (but, alas, I ran short on time and something had to go). The thought was to either use my digital frame to showcase pictures of the mothers being honored at the brunch or to place pictures of each of the mothers with their children in frames around the buffet and living room (and then give the frames to each mother as a gift).
Happy Mother's Day to all the mommas out there!

April 18, 2009

A Lesson In Optomism (and Faith in Nature)

I'm embarrassed to admit how long I've been waiting to see the famed California poppies sprinkled across the Antelope Valley. Finally, this year, I convinced my husband (and some friends) that we should venture to Antelope Valley mid-April to see "flowers."

After all the hype and excitement - we finally reached the Antelope Valley.

It was not a good year for poppies.

But we did manage to find a poppy here and there . But, regardless, we still had a great time enjoying the vistas.

Finally we left the reserve, and on our way home, we noticed that on other non-protected land - the poppies were thriving.

We'll probably be back again - poppies or no poppies.