real parties: a hole in one golfing party

It may be a little cold for golf these days, but not for this adorable golf inspired 30th birthday, created by Michele of Crazy for Design. Lots of great touches on this dessert table... pretzel flag sticks, donut hole golf balls, and even some iced 'tee'. Love it. And the cake with the broken club is just too cute!

{images via Crazy for Design}

the advent of december...

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving break and stuffed themselves heartily! It was wonderful to get some much needed time off work and spend it with my family. And way too easy to get used to... waking up in the dark this morning while everyone was sleeping made me long for another week of freedom. Thank goodness I'm taking a week at Christmas too! I've already started getting in the holiday spirit and will have a few special posts this month, including a joint venture with Cakewalk Baking that I'm super excited to share with you.

Meanwhile, I've been on the hunt for a unique advent calendar. After quite a bit of browsing I came upon this lovely from the Purl Bee. It involves a bit of effort and creativity, but with a beautiful result. The felt is so warm and wintery, and the pouches are just the right size for little gifts {and little fingers}. If you're so inclined to give it a try, there is a great step by step tutorial on their site to help walk you through...

{images via the purl bee}

UPDATE: Jordan from Polka Dot Prints sent me this free DIY advent garland made from paper! Download it for yourself here.

{image by polka dot prints}

keep calm and.... have a happy thanksgiving

As you may have noticed, I'm taking a little Thanksgiving break. I'm enjoying a simple week of down time with family and friends... no work, no blogging (current content aside) and no stress. Today while my daughter was in daycare, I even managed to accomplish a bit of holiday shopping and see the new Harry Potter flick with a girlfriend. I'm now cozied up in fleece pajamas with a mug of apple cider, and generally feeling very thankful. I'll be back next week, but until then...

{image by craftily ever after via oh dee doh}

custom inspiration board: pink & orange polka dots

I was honored to complete this inspiration board for Siew Khee all the way from Singapore! She was looking for ideas for her daughter’s first birthday and had a few ideas to take into consideration. These included the color orange, polka dots, a bubble machine and a catered thai food lunch. Since orange and pink work so well together, I suggested a polka dot party using these colors. The bubbles naturally fit right in with the round theme and Thai food would be beautiful accented with dishes and flowers in these bold colors. Here are the rest of the details...

Party Ideas
Colors: hot pink & sherbet orange
Setting: an indoor party at home for about 30 adults & children.
Invitations: consider
this invite from hicks paper goods and line envelopes with polka dot paper and use a round sticker on the back to seal.
Decorations: fill the room with all varieties of round objects... oversized balloons, circle banners, round paper lanterns, etc. there are lots of polka dot party supplies on the market, so use a few accents like dot cups and napkins, and create your own paper chargers with a circle cutter. bright round flowers would be beautiful as centerpieces such as mums, dahlias and poppies.
Food: serve thai food in colorful bowls and add round labels highlighting the name of each dish. for dessert, consider birthday cake & cupcakes with fondant polka dots, circular sugar cookies with colorful icing- or see image for a clever milkshake with marshmallow dots from sweet paul. to drink, offer pink lemonade with circular slices of lemon and orange as garnish.
Favors: a treat bag filled with a variety of dot shaped candy (ie: paper dots, gumdrops, malt balls, lollipops, m&ms etc.) along with a small bottle of bubbles.
Activity: create bubbles from the bubble machine & have kids make their own bubble wands out of pipe cleaners.

Photo Credits
Row 1: bubbles via
the party dress, marshmallow shake via sweet paul; cake via the red bird life
Row 2: cookies via
the red bird life; balloons via martha stewart; gifts via ideas in blume
Row 3: envelope via
the sweetest occasion; flowers via hostess blog; partyware via the celebration shoppe
Row 4: dot candy via
flickr; lollipops via martha stewart, malt balls via nicole parker

sweet potato bourbon bundt cake

Guess who's coming to dinner? Me and this yummy bundt cake! My friends are getting together on Saturday for a pre-thanksgiving dinner. It's a tradition we started last year as a fun way to try out new recipes and make dishes not approved for our traditional family celebrations. As I mentioned last week, I've been looking for an interesting cake recipe, and I decided this one fits the bill perfectly... it sounds mouthwateringly delicious, and I'm a fan of anything with a bit of southern flair. Can't wait to try it out!

{image & recipe via martha stewart}

Sweet-Potato Bourbon Bundt Cake

1 1/2 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pan
2 large eggs
1 cup cooked sweet potato
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup bourbon or apple juice
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
3/4 teaspoon salt
Nonstick cooking spray with flour
3 tablespoons chopped pecans
**Bourbon Syrup

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together brown sugar, butter, and eggs until very light and fluffy. Add sweet potato and vanilla; beat to combine. Add flour, milk, bourbon, baking powder, pie spice, and salt; mix until just incorporated. Lightly spray a 10 or 12 cup Bundt pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle bottom and up sides of the pan with pecans. Pour in cake batter.
Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes. Remove from pan; cool completely on wire rack. Brush cake with bourbon syrup. Serve cake slices with any remaining syrup.

**Bourbon Syrup
Makes enough for one 10- to 12-cup Bundt cake

1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons bourbon

In a small saucepan, bring sugar and 1/2 cup water to a boil. Cook 5 minutes. Add butter, vanilla, and bourbon. Cook until syrupy, about 5 minutes.

Rock Climbing & Colorful Cupcakes

A friend of mine hosted a rock climbing party for her daughter last weekend so I got to help with the details... including baking 3 dozen of these fun brightly colored rock candy cupcakes. I used basic yellow cake and chocolate cake recipes, both with cream cheese frosting, and decorated with cake cups & sprinkles from the layer cake shop as well as large chunks of rock candy. The lighting wasn't the best for photography in my kitchen, but the first 2 shots are after baking. The rest of the photos are from the party itself, including rock embellished invites, rock candy favors and a few of guests making their climb up the rock wall...

{images ©birthday girl 2010}

Graham's County Fair Birthday

I've been beyond excited to show off this County Fair party from Michele of Cakewalk Baking, and the moment has finally arrived! This one brings me special joy because I designed the invitations and CD favors, and was on hand for the big day to help out and take pictures alongside Michele and photographer Sherry Heck.

I can't say enough good things about this party. Believe it or not, it was pouring down rain outside, but in the end that only served to enhance the rustic moodiness of the day. Michele is a professional baker, so she created all of the gorgeous (and oh so yummy) cakes and treats on the dessert table herself... not to mention hand crafting the tags, prize ribbons, onsies for the babies and even sewing the bunting above the table from a vintage tablecloth. She also made sure everyone was well entertained playing carnival games, eating popcorn & corndogs and decorating cookies. Frankly, she's a party planning genius... I can't wait to collaborate with her on some future projects!

photos by sherry heck 

real parties: little red buttons

Chiara sent me this sweet little red button party all the way from Italy. She choose the theme for her niece Dieltta’s 2nd birthday because ‘bottoni’ (buttons) was one of her very first words. She crafted her own embroidery pieces to create the invitations and table signs, and created an array of paper fans detailed with red buttons to line the wall and top the snacks. The hand stamped cookies are gorgeous, as are the cupcakes and oversized fabric wrapped candy favors.

{images via lefrufrublog}