party inspiration: under the sea pool party

Oh my, did we ever have a hot weekend here in the Bay Area! I was really in the mood to make a cool refreshing board, and then I remembered the adorable mermaid images I'd saved from Pottery Barn Kids... the perfect inspiration for an under the sea theme party! I love the idea of using a hot pink and aqua color palette and letting guests create their own 'sand' bucket favors filled with blue candy or Swedish fish. Of course, some kind of water fun is a must for this theme, but if you don't have a pool, a sprinkler or slip n' slide will certainly keep your little mermaids entertained. And don't forget bubble wands to add a little extra magic...

Resources: mermaid skirts and tableware via PB kids; flipflops, cupcakes , jello fishbowl and coral cake via martha stewart; tablescape & blue bottles via brides; pink drinks via HWTM; girl mermaid via flickr; buckets via plum party; splish splash invite via tiny prints; blue candy via the knot.

real parties: polka dot perfection

This party has captured my heart this week.  I seem to be continually drawn to the sherbet colored palette, but that’s only because it works so well for so many events!   And polka dots are just plain fun in any size or color.   In my opinion, this party by inchmark does dots just right.  Cheery and whimsical, without going too overboard on the details.  As she herself admits, her 2 year old daughter Bee (great name too!) probably wouldn’t know the difference.  Sometimes we planners just can’t help ourselves, but case in point... the result is always worth the extra effort. 

{more details & images via inchmark}

handcrafted flower garlands

I’m in love with these colorful homemade flower garlands from zakka life, recycled out of old catalogs.  What a perfectly wonderful way to give new life to your junk mail!  I bet they’d make eye catching decor at a party, indoors or out.  See this simple tutorial for how to make them, and get your kids in on it too! 

{images via zakka life}

the crispery: ooey gooey rice crispy goodness

Remember the rice crispy treats you loved as a kid?  I’ll do you one better.  I just heard about this company The Crispery and I’m pretty sure the mouth watering photos below speak for themselves.  Their creations include so many versions of the classic kid friendly treat, I have stop and wonder ‘why didn’t I think of this years ago’?!  I love that they offer sample boxes in pretty packaging too... such a great birthday gift or favor idea!   

{images via the crispery}

paper and ink studio

A friend recently passed along this link to an up-and-coming stationary studio with products available on etsy.  Paper and Ink studio is based out of New Orleans and has some beautiful designs for party invitations, as well as a variety of social stationary for both adults and children.  I went to school in New Orleans and consider it my second home, so I’m always thrilled for an opportunity to promote one of it's creative small business owners.  Hope you enjoy their work as much as I did... 

{images via paper & ink studio}

party inspiration: red, white and birthday

One of my dear friends is turning 30 on July 5th, and is planning a backyard bbq and pool party with family and friends, deep in the heart of Texas. I thought it only fitting to give her some inspiration for a classic, all American, red white and blue summer celebration. Hopefully it'll give you a jump start on those July 4th plans too.

Enjoy your summer Sunday... and a happy Father's Day shout out to dads everywhere!

Resources: hammock & lounge chairs via pottery barn; girl, shortcake, bench and porch scenes via martha stewart; red shoes, backyard tables and pennants via flights of fancy; burger via bobby flay; card via hello lucky; soda via project wedding; cakes via the brides cafe, chair with pie via sweet paul.

real parties: you're number one

This first birthday party by sometimes creative is still further proof that breaking away from traditional themes often yields the most creative results.  Who would have guessed you could do so much with the number 1?  I really like the color combo of bright green and blue for a boy’s birthday... it’s both fresh and eye catching.  The homemade chocolate lollipops are an inspired choice too, doubling as both the favors and table centerpieces.  But my favorite element are the cupcake toppers... complete with a photo of the birthday boy himself!  This party is truly one of a kind (sorry... I couldn't resist).  

{more images and details via sometimes creative}

burger baskets by bakerella

I did a complete double take when I saw this post from bakerella. Sure, I’ve seen crafty cupcakes before, but never a full scale meal! I can’t believe this basket of burger and fries is made from cupcakes, brownies and sugar cookies. Totally brilliant. In case you want to tackle the recipe for yourself, bakerella was also kind enough to include a tutorial on her blog as well as downloadable templates for the baskets, paper liner and fry bags. The templates are formatted for Father’s Day, but with just a little tweaking you could easily make these in place of a cake for a birthday party: think 1950’s style soda shop a la Happy Days/Grease... or pretty much any ballpark sports theme!

{images via bakerella}

party animals at night owl paper goods

I absolutely adore this new line from the folksy-folks at night owl.  All their little critters are priceless, and talk about organic paper!  The cards are actually printed on the source itself, thin slices of birch wood from sustainable forests.  The cards are blank on the back and apparently any pen or pencil will work just fine for writing your birthday sentiments.  Check out their website for even more designs.

party inspiration board: jamaican me crazy

I created this board for Kelley of My Island Wedding, who is considering an all-inclusive, destination celebration with her family in Jamaica for her 40th. Since I'm not headed anywhere nearly as exotic this summer, how could I resist the chance to dream it up for her? A crystal blue ocean, tropical fruit & flowers, calypso music and a Red Stripe in hand... I can feel my troubles melting away.

Kelley is also going to post this over at her blog, and enter it as part of her upcoming wedding inspiration board contest. I may enter another board as well, so head over there to check out the entries and vote for me, beginning Saturday, June 27th.

Resources: flowers & feathers via betsy white; suitcases via martha stewart; beach via trip advisor; shrimp via flickr; stars via the knot; invitation by dauphine press; cakes by cheryl kleinman.

real parties: pretty in pink

I am constantly amazed by the creativity that stems from the most basic of themes. The Pleated Poppy’s daughter wanted a “pink party” for her 6th birthday and boy did she get her wish! I love love love the pink sweets buffet and the ingenious combination of both balloons and paper lanterns. Everything is so simple and classic... it would work beautifully at any age.

{more images & details via the pleated poppy}

light up your party with paper lanterns

Beau Coup now sells these paper party lanterns in a variety of punchy summer colors.  I used them in white for my wedding, lit up with hanging bulbs to add elegance to our garden setting.  These brighter colors are even more versatile because they don't really need to be lit for effect.  Simply tie them along a string across your porch, or hang them from the branches of a backyard tree at various lengths.  They'll give your party some extra pop, and unlike balloons they can be re-used time and time again.

{image via beau coup}

party inspiration: hot fun in the summertime

I've been on the go all weekend celebrating birthdays and generally being productive, but now alas it seems that my energy has pittered out and my eyes are glazing over. I couldn't bear to leave you empty handed on a Sunday, so I bring you this inspiration board courtesy of one of my very favorite bloggers snippet & ink. Her talent for inspiration boards knows no bounds. This board is just so bright and cheery, isn't it? It definitely put me in the mood to host a bbq this summer.

{image via snippet & ink}

real parties: arrgh! it's a pirate party

I am soooo impressed by this 4th birthday pirate party designed by piece of cake.  The details are really special, from the banners to the cake flags, to the old fashioned labels on the popcorn jars (I wonder if that's 'Pirate's Booty' brand).  The best part?  Most of these paper elements are available at their etsy shop so you can re-create this party at home for your little one! Isn't it nice when someone else does the hard work and you get all the glory?

{more images and details via piece of cake}

lemon meringue cupcakes

If you haven’t already heard, Martha just came out with a new book on one of my favorite subjects- cupcakes!  These luscious lemon meringue cupcakes are included in the book and were featured in her recent birthday show.  There’s also a great how-to video on her website if you’re up for the challenge.  Let me know how they turn out!

{image from martha stewart}

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes
Makes 24

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
Finely grated zest of 3 lemons (about 3 tablespoons), plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
Lemon Curd  (*see below)
Seven-Minute Frosting (*see below)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is until incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in zest and vanilla. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk and lemon juice, and beating until just combined after each.
Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until golden brown and a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.
To finish, spread 1 tablespoon lemon curd onto middle of each cupcake. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a large open-star tip (Ateco #828 or Wilton #8B) with frosting. Pipe frosting onto each cupcake, swirling tip slightly and releasing as you pull up to form a peak. Hold a small kitchen torch 3 to 4 inches from surface of frosting, and wave it back and forth until frosting is lightly browned all over. Serve immediately.

*Lemon Curd

Makes about 2 cups
8 large egg yolks
Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
1 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces

Combine yolks, lemon zest, lemon juice, and sugar in a heavy-bottom saucepan; whisk to combine. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon (be sure to scrape the sides of the pan), until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon, 8 to 10 minutes, and registers 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.
Remove saucepan from heat. Add salt and butter, one piece at a time, stirring until smooth. Strain through a fine sieve into a medium bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface of the curd to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled and set, at least 1 hour or up to 1 day.

*7 minute Frosting

Makes about 8 cups
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2/3 cup water
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
6 large egg whites, room temperature in through a fine sieve into a medium bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface of the curd to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled and set, at least 1 hour or up to 1 day.

Combine 1 1/2 cups sugar with the water and corn syrup in a small saucepan; clip a candy thermometer to side of pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves. Continue boiling, without stirring, until syrup reaches 230 degrees.
Meanwhile, in the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk egg whites on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. With mixer running, add remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, beating to combine.
As soon as sugar syrup reaches 230 degrees, remove from heat. With mixer on medium-low speed, pour syrup down side of bowl in a slow, steady stream. Raise speed to medium-high; whisk until mixture is completely cool (test by touching the bottom of the bowl) and stiff (but not dry) peaks form, about 7 minutes. Use immediately.