custom inspiration board: a kentucky derby baby shower

This board was made for Gretchen who is hosting a couples baby shower on the day of the Kentucky Derby... can I just say I love this idea?! She's having the event at a country club and wanted something somewhat elegant, but not over the top. The mom to be is having a boy, so I created a fresh and preppy look that suits both the races and the baby shower theme.

Theme: Kentucky Derby

Party Ideas
Color Palette: navy blue & green with yellow accents
Setting: a couples baby shower for 20-30, lunch at a country club
Invitations: to be custom designed. include a navy horseshoe icon (or a rocking horse!) to be used across all paper goods. encourage guests to dress in their derby best, including hats of course.
Decorations: Consider periwinkle and white hydrangea with daises as accent flowers for centerpieces- low arrangements in mint julep style cups. Rocking horses are a cute twist on derby/baby shower. if you can find some miniatures to put on the table it would add a little something.
Food: A seated lunch with an upscale twist on Kentucky favorites like fried chicken breasts, heirloom tomatoes, green beans and southern style cornbread. chocolate pecan pie for dessert. iced tea, lemonade and classic mint juleps to drink.
Favors: giving everyone a silver plated mint julep cup to keep would be a lovely gesture, or keep it simple by giving cookie favors in glassine bags with ribbon that are iced with the icon from the paper goods.
Other: instead of traditional shower games, create a few betting sheets to be done over lunch, both for the big race and to quiz couples about new parenting. Have prizes for the winners.

Photo Credits
Row 1: seersucker suit via citizen arcane; mint julep via southern living; table setting via martha stewart; mad men via ritzy bee
Row 2: favor boxes via
martha stewart; hat via stiletto sports; flowers; table settings via enjoy cando

Row 3: dasies via
real simple; coasters via etsy; invite via coco and kelley
Row 4:
socks via kelly oshiro; table setting via veranda; hats via snippet and ink

custom inspiration board: 70th birthday surprise

This board was created for Christi of P is for Party. She always hosts fabulous events for her kids, but this party is a surprise for her father's 70th birthday. She and her mother are hosting the event at a favorite local Italian restaurant and want to make sure it's a sophisticated but comfortable affair. She had a lot of great ideas to build on and I know her family will be thrilled with the results.

Theme: 70th Birthday Dinner Party

Party Ideas
Colors: Olive green & sienna
Setting: Evening surprise party. Seated Italian dinner for 130.
Decorations: Incorporate olive branches and greenery into centerpieces of green, white, yellow lush flowers. Consider adding lemons to centerpieces or line in clear glass vases as they compliment nicely with olive green. Use wine bottles with labels as table numbers and insert seating cards into corks. I agree that a blackboard style menu would be perfect for this setting too.
Dessert: Set apart the cake table by using the cake as a centerpiece and have a few other desserts surrounding it. Drape the table with olive branch garland or add height by adding a few olive bushes or Meyer lemon trees at the back of the table.
Favors: Small bottles of olive oil, wine for each couple or create a take home dessert buffet in greens, browns and whites.
Other: Hang small copies of b/w family pictures from the branches of an olive wreath or olive tree, either at the cake table or in a separate area. Instead of a guestbook, have a glass wine carafe at the gift area with a sign instructing guests to drop notes and well wishes.

Photo Credits
Row 1: table setting via elisabeth anne designs; bar via ariella chezar; antipasto; candy jars via rebecca thuss
Row 2: place card holders via the green bride; cake table via the cupcake company
Row 3: dessert buffet via amy atlas; olive wreath via the dirty shirt ; menu via style me pretty; olive oil via stonehouse
Row 4: wine table number via
snippet & ink; centerpiece via style me pretty; chair garlands; mini olive trees via sur la table

real parties: vintage 1950's

Today’s sweet birthday party comes from Maribeth of Pigtails & PJs... this handcrafted vintage look is wonderful and totally unique. Maribeth found her inspiration in the family’s 1956 home and searched old recipe books and photos to make sure the party had special authentic details. Many of the items you see like the party hats and noisemakers were handmade. Guests even brought home their own 1950’s style treat bags with rock candy, gum balls, nickle nips and candy necklaces. And of course this photography is just right...

{images via pigtails & pjs}

raspberry meringue cake

Damn you Martha! Why do you insist on tormenting my pregnancy cravings with your luscious cake filled e-mails? If someone promises to make this for me on my birthday, I’ll consider holding out until then...

{image via martha stewart}

Meringue-Frosted Cake with Raspberry Filling

The cake layers can be baked, cooled, and wrapped in plastic up to a day ahead. Just before serving, spread filling over one layer, leaving a 1-inch border around the edge, then assemble the cake. When it's time for dessert, make the meringue, frost the cake, and brown it.

Prep: 30 minutes
Total: 1 hour 40 minutes
Serves 10

  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for pans
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs, plus 3 large egg yolks (reserving whites for meringue, plus 1 additional white)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup milk
  • 5 ounces frozen raspberries, thawed and drained (1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 cup raspberry preserves
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with rack in center. Butter two 8-inch round cake pans; line bottoms with parchment paper. Butter paper; dust with flour; tap out excess. In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
  2. Using an electric mixer, in a large bowl, beat butter with 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla; beat until combined.
  3. Alternately add flour mixture and milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture; beat just until combined. Divide batter between prepared pans.
  4. Bake cakes side by side (not touching), rotating pans halfway through, until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool in pans 10 minutes. Run a knife around edge of pans. Invert cakes onto a cooling rack; remove parchment. Cool completely, upside down. (Wrap in plastic, and store at room temperature, up to 1 day.)
  5. In a small bowl, combine raspberries and preserves. On an ovenproof serving platter, place one cake layer, bottom side up; spread with raspberry mixture, leaving a 1-inch border. Top with second cake layer, bottom side up.
  6. Preheat oven to 450 degrees, with rack in bottom third. Using an electric mixer, beat reserved whites with additional egg white until soft peaks form. Gradually add 3/4 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating whites until stiff. Using a spatula, frost top and sides of cake, lifting spatula occasionally to make peaks. Bake until tips of meringue brown slightly, about 2 minutes, watching carefully so they don't burn.

balloon love

Saw this party on Jordan Ferney's blog and had to share. It's pure happiness... a birthday wish come true.

{image via we heart it}

custom inspiraton board: how to get to sesame street

For this inspiration board, Rosa asked for help putting together a Sesame Street party for her son and daughter's joint birthdays. She knew she wanted a sweets buffet and bright colors, but she isn't allowed to decorate the walls of her event space. I gave her a rainbow of ideas to really make this party pop...

Theme: Sesame Street

Party Ideas
Color Palette: Bright primary colors (red, blue, green yellow, orange, purple)
Setting: Birthday lunch & activities indoors at community building.
Decorations: Give each table a different color tablecloth and attach centerpiece to a bundle of balloons (mix mylar and regular rounds) of varying sizes and colors. If the place will allow it, you can also run a string of fabric bunting diagonally back and fourth across the room to make the space seem a bit smaller and cozier (or drape it along the edging of your dessert buffet). If you want to create large sized characters, have a place like kinkos blow up color images to poster size and affix them to foam board with a fold out stand. It would also be great to do the sesame street lamppost and street signs outside pointing the way to the party.
Food: A bite sized buffet of kid-friendly colorful foods. Mini grilled cheese & pb&j sandwiches, pizza bites, fruit salad, veggie sticks etc. for the kids, and include some grown up options like tri colored pasta salad, mixed green salad, grilled paninis etc. For an added touch, give the kid foods fun names (ie: grover’s grape jelly & peanut butter bites). Include buckets of Jones or Izze soda in a variety of flavors (Jones offers an option to create personalized labels too- you could include a photo of your kids and create a flavor name).
Dessert: A sweets buffet including 2 towers of cupcakes decorated with character faces, giant lollipops and apothecary jars filled with a rainbow of candy. Attach 2 large bundles of balloons behind the table to elevate the space and include stuffed sesame street characters of varying sizes that your kids can take home.
Favors: Offer bags for each guest to fill up with treats from the candy buffet. Seal with personalized labels or character stickers. Pre-punch holes at the top of the bags so parents can tie on balloons for their kids to carry out.
Activities: Pre-arranged entertainment by Elmo etc. Set up a table with coloring pages of the characters & lots of crayons. This site has great resources: For music: Putumayo has a CD of songs from the playground and there are others on the market I’m sure.
Other: On the invite, ask all the guests to wear a shirt representing the color of their favorite Sesame Street Character.

Photo Credits
Row 1: muppet cupcakes via
shishi montreal; bunting via secret agent josephine; jones soda
Row 2: hats via
etsy; lollipops via flickr; cake pops via bakerella
Row 3: rock candy via
the sweetest occasion; candy buffet via hwtm; sesame street sign via tree hugger
Row 4: cd via
sesame; balloons via karas party ideas; sprinkles cupcakes via make merry events; cookie monster cupcake via flickr

custom inspiration board: a modern monster bash

Carrie is hosting a modern monster party for her son's 3rd birthday and asked me to put together an inspiration board to help get her started with ideas. She's also a talented graphic designer and provided me a potential invitation as well as her own happy monster design. I thought they were just adorable and had to share them as part of the board because they'll make a great basis for the theme. I also provided her with a color palette recommendation because it was surprisingly hard to find images that were appropriate in both color and theme.

Theme: Modern Monsters

Party Ideas
Colors: A combo of 3 modern colors (recommended: blue, lime green, orange)
Setting: Indoors at home or local clubhouse, 12-15 kids
Decorations: There are several kinds of modern monsters on the market these days including ugly dolls and fluffels. You can either buy a few plushes or make your own creations out of fleece fabric and use them as the table centerpieces, hanging from bunches of balloons around the room*. Draw monster footprints leading up to your door. Also, create a banner in the style of the invitations and other coordinating details like gift tags, thank you notes etc.
Food: kid friendly lunch foods with fun names (ie: chicken fingers= monster fingers). For dessert, make rice crispy treats with m&ms in blob like 'monster shapes'. or decorate cookies/cupcakes with icing in the theme colors.
Activities: Have the kids craft their own monster (have google eyes and foam shapes etc with glue sticks). Also consider coloring in monsters, pin the body part on the monster, monster mash musical chairs etc.
Favors: *everyone gets to take home one of the plush monsters at the end of the party.
Guest book: Have everyone write messages to the birthday boy in a copy of the tickle monster book.

Photo Credits
Row 1: invite via stationary scoop; gift bags via julie gcf; placemat via remodern
Row 2: cupcake via
bunnycakes; calling card via stationary scoop; banner via the mcculleys
Row 3: monster sundae and coloring table via juicy bits; tickle monster book via amazon; handmade monster via flickr

Row 4: plush ugly dolls via land of nod; ugly doll figurines via flickr; marshmallow pops via very sweet desserts

show & tell: real party highlights

I've had such an influx of amazing parties lately that I realized there's no way I'll be able to feature them all in full. There is a ton of great inspiration here though, so I decided on a little show and tell featuring my favorite picture from each event. Go visit these blogs and check out all the rest!

shauna younge's latest dessert table:

a nautical shower from
over cocktails:

indoor camping from
bashful custom events:

a transportation theme from
the martin family:

snowflakes & princesses from the a girls:

twitterpated garden themed birthday:

fancy girls from
and baby makes four:

party box design's my little cupcake baby shower:

a pond party from curly birds:

{all images via linked blogs}

paper monday: hoot hoot! owl party supplies

Okay, so I know it’s not Monday anymore, but I totally forgot to post this yesterday. Is anyone else feeling off schedule after the long weekend?

I’m going to be working on a pink owl custom inspiration board this week and remembered that
The Celebration Shoppe has these adorable new owl baby shower party supplies... so perfect! I have to admit I have a personal love for this theme because I’m considering doing an owl theme in my future daughter’s nursery. We painted the walls a pale tiffany blue this weekend and now I’m beside myself with decorating potential... so many choices!

custom inspiration board: classic carnival

Remember the giveaway I posted a few weeks back? Here at last is the inspiration board created for the winner Norma, who wanted a carnival theme for her son's 2nd birthday...

Theme: Classic Carnival

Party Ideas
colors: bright primary colors (red, yellow, blue)
setting: backyard afternoon party, casual food and activities set-up.
decorations: lots of giant balloons, bunting banners over the booths and around the tables. if space allows, set up a 'big top' style tent by draping fabric over food area or just above the candy table.
food: hot dogs, hamburgers, popcorn, animal crackers, and a dessert station with cupcakes, lollipops, rock candy etc. also include a photo booth with dress up props, and face painting.
activities: what's a carnival without chances to win a prize? give out tickets at the beginning of the party and have an assortment of games set up such as ring toss, milk bottle baseball, ping pong goldfish bowl toss, bobbing for apples etc. set up a wall of small dime store prizes and let the winners choose.
favors: give out the goldfish bowls from the game and have goldfish ready for each person to take home. or for a simpler favor, just let everyone make their own bag of sweets from the candy buffet.

Photo Credits
Row 1: invite via tiny prints; girl on ball via anthropologie; ballon man via most adorable...; cupcake table via martha stewart
Row 2: tickets via green wedding shoes; balloons via josh goleman; snow cones via martha stewart; candy buffet via amy atlas
Row 3: animal crackers and little clowns via
kara's party ideas; ducks via ish and chi
Row 4: popcorn cupcakes via
cake central; sweets via green wedding shoes; prizes via ish and chi; pinwheels via gigi & lulu

real parties: the circus comes to town

Sandi of The Winding Road sent me pictures of her son & daughter’s joint circus birthday party and I am remiss in not posting them for you sooner. The details are over the top creative, and the photography of the kids belongs on the pages of a magazine... enjoy!

{images via the winding road}

a bun in the oven...

Amidst all this party reviewing and inspiration board promoting, you probably had no idea I've been hanging on to a big secret for 5 months... I'm pregnant! It's our first child so needless to say it's been an exciting and overwhelming couple of months. We had our 20 week ultrasound screening on Monday and in addition to learning that everything is going smoothly so far, we found out that we're having a little girl! We're both thrilled, but oh my poor husband... he's going to be surrounded by women (including the cat and the dog). I knew you'd all be happy to share in my news, and now that I'm going to be a mommy you can feel free to impart all your worldly parenting wisdom my way.

In honor of the occasion, I thought it was appropriate to post a recipe for my favorite breakfast pastry: morning buns. They're incredibly time consuming and painstaking to make, but so deliciously worthwhile... sound about right?

{image via pink stripes}

Morning Buns
It is best to make these over two days. Make the dough the first day (it can take about 8 hours), leave it in the refrigerator overnight and bake the buns in the morning. They absolutely must be eaten while they’re hot and fresh.

2 oz. (1/2 cup plus 4 1/2 tsp. Dry nonfat milk powder
2 1/3 cups cold water
2 1/2 lb. (8cups) unbleached flour
5 tsp. Salt

Butter Block:
1 1/2 lb. (48 Tbs.) unsalted butter, cut into 2-inch cubes,
slightly softened
2 Tbs. Unbleached flour (about)

2 cups packed brown sugar
2 cups sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground clove

Proof the yeast by dissolving the dry yeast in a small amount of warm water, sugar and flour. Next, combine the yeast with the nonfat milk powder, water, flour and salt to form a lumpy under mixed dough. (Don’t over knead or the buns will be tough.)

Croissant dough needs to be kept cold. Cover a bowl with the dough in it and let it rise in the refrigerator for one to two hours, until it has doubled in size.

Next, add the flour to the softened butter by knead it into the butter. You must use the best unsalted butter. The better the butter, the less water it has in it.

Roll out the butter mixed with flour between two pieces of floured waxed paper. Form it into a 10 x 12-inch rectangle. Wrap in plastic and chill in the refrigerator. The butter should be chilled to the consistency of modeling clay. If it’s too cold it will break into chunks and if it’s too warm, it will be absorbed too much into the dough.

When the dough and butter are evenly chilled, roll the chilled dough into an 18 x 12-inch rectangle on a floured surface. Unwrap the chilled butter and lay it on the upper two-thirds of the rolled dough. Fold the lower (unbuttered) third over the center third. Bring the upper third down over the center, as if you were folding a letter. Make it into an even rectangle.

Then turn the dough 90 degrees, so the short open ends are at 6 and 12 o’clock. Roll the dough until it doubles in length, rolling toward the open ends, not toward the folds. Fold in thirds again, as you would a letter. Rotate 90 degrees again, doubling in length and fold again. After the two turns, seal the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate 2 to 4 hours. Then repeat the set of two turns again and follow by refrigerating overnight. The cold rest keeps the butter from melting and oozing into the dough. If the dough shrinks rather than expands and won’t roll out after one of its refrigerated periods, let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes.

The dough can be frozen for future use at this point if you are now bored with the whole idea of making the buns. However, if you are up to it, take the dough out the next morning. It will be only slightly larger than when the turns were completed.

Roll out the finished dough, dust it with a mixture of the brown sugar and spices, roll it into a tight coil and cut into individual rounds. Put each round into a greased muffin tin and be sure each is firmly in contact with the bottom of the pan. (Otherwise the air in-between will burn the buns. Don’t let the dough get too warm as you are working it. Keep putting it in the refrigerator if necessary.

Now there is one more rising, this time in a warm spot. It should take about 45 minutes. It is ready when you poke your finger in the side of the pastry and the indentation remains.

Bake at 400 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes. If the top starts to burn during baking, cover with foil. And put foil under the muffin tin to catch any

real parties: welcome to the dollhouse

This doll themed party was sent to me by Laura of Sweet Soiree who specializes in amazing dessert tables for parties and weddings. The pink and white striped tenting gives this candy buffet a vintage circus feel that is quite sophisticated for a little girl’s party. Looking at the gorgeous macaroons and fondant covered cake I’m sure all the guests and their dolls were in dessert heaven...

{images by sweet soiree}

paper monday: bee things

How cute are these lunch bags from bee things? Not only will they do your child's lunch proud, but they also make for ideal gift wrap on the go...

{images spotted at crow & canary}

custom inspiration board: a fairy garden birthday

I created this board for Kim of the Tomkat Studio to help inspire plans for her daughter Kate's fairy garden birthday party. Besides having excellent taste, Kim designs her own line of party invites and paper goods, so I'm totally confident she'll be able to take my ideas and run with them. Can't wait to see pictures from the event!

Theme: Fairy Garden

Party Ideas
Colors: greens, pinks and yellows
Setting: an outdoor garden party. set up lunch at a long table or picnic style in the grass.
Decorations: bouquets of fresh spring flowers (roses, hydrangea, gerbra daises, peonies, topiaries), paper butterflies, lanterns and/or string lights to hang around the tables.
Food: tiered trays of tea sandwiches with fruit and small bites in colorful baking cups. petit fours, mini cupcakes, macaroons etc for dessert. pink & yellow lemonade with lime slices.
Favors: have guests decorate paper stars to attach to fairy wands or give each a bag of labeled fairy dust (glitter).
Activities: have an area with tutus, hair garlands & fairy wings for the kids to play dress up... and face painting.

Photo Credits
Row 1: table setting via
Social Couture; cupcakes via jose villa; lanterns via martha stewart; topiary via hana lynch
Row 2: fairy gathering via
imprintables; stuffed fairy via pottery barn kids
Row 3: woodland fairies via
cookie mag; dessert table via scissors paper cake; table via posh tot events
Row 4: picnic via
oh happy day; roses; hair garland via ariella chezar; fruit cups via make merry events