O Baby! Baby Shower + Free Printables

I don't often spotlight baby showers, but this one is near and dear to my heart.  I was in Atlanta the other weekend to celebrate a shower for friend who now also happens to be my sister in law.  Wait, what?  To make a long story short, one of my best friends from college married my husband's brother.  They met at our wedding, lived happily ever after, and are now expecting a little girl almost exactly a year after our own daughter was born.  Unfortunately I don't get to see them very often since they live in Dallas, so it was extra special for me to be able to share this occasion with her.

Since I wasn't hosting the shower I didn't want to be a control freak, but I simply couldn’t resist contributing some favors and party printables.  The baby’s name is going to be Hannah, but we’ve all been calling her ‘baby O’ since the beginning {the couple’s last name begins with an O}.  I thought it would be fun to play off the nickname with some ‘O baby!’ designs.  The ‘O’ I found also just so happens to look like a baby face silhouette with a lock of hair, so it worked out rather nicely.  So nicely in fact that I thought I’d offer up some of the printables free to you!   

The favors were simple: ribbon tied cello bags filled with chocolate mints, sour apples and grape candy to fit the party colors, with 1” labels. I also did some water bottle labels, tags, party circles and made a little ‘O mama!’ ribbon for the mom to be. The party circles were meant for the cupcakes from Mon Amys, but the fondant flowers were just so pretty that we couldn’t stand to overshadow them with toppers.  Fresh flowers, colorful hanging onsies and pom flowers rounded out the décor, along with framed baby photos of the mama-to-be. The highlight of the afternoon had to be the onsie painting though... the girls let out their inner artists and came up with some adorable & hilarious hand painted creations!

images ©cake. 2011

Download O Baby Printables HERE

real parties: a vintage spring tea

Last Sunday I was supposed to co-host a garden tea party with Cakewalk Baking, but we had to make a devastating last minute decision to re-schedule due to rain.  Ironically, I happened to receive some lovely photos of this vintage tea party, designed by Thetis of Little Sooti.  Since she lives 'down under' she doesn't have much rain to contend with this month, so the party for her niece's 10th birthday went off without a hitch.  I hope you enjoy this sweet spring event and sit tight for our own version, coming next month.  Read on for details from Little Sooti...

{images via little sooti}

A couple weeks ago I had the pleasure in styling a Vintage Tea Garden Party for my beautiful niece Chloe's 10th birthday along with her mum, my beautiful sister Stella. The setting was their beautiful big backyard under a gorgeous tree on a perfect sunny day, which made for the most elegant set up. The party had two parts, the Vintage Tea Garden Party and then a Moroccan Themed Sleepover in the evening. 

The table setting was  for 10 very excited little girls. Each girl had their own vintage tea cup and saucer, a vintage napkin and a mini glass bottle filled with pink lemonade. The vintage tea cups are my mums and are part of a full dinnerware set as are the pretty little napkins. My sister purchased some pretty fabric in which my mum turned into a table runner. Desserts and finger food included mini vanilla and strawberry cupcakes, raspberry macrons, strawberries and cream (the girls loved this), fairy bread, raspberry jelly shots, marshmallow teacups, yummy cucumber and assorted finger sandwiches, as well as mini gourmet sausage rolls and party pies.  

Gorgeous flowers were placed in assorted glass jars decorated in doilies, lace tape and twine. Other decor around the garden were hanging lanterns, a long doily garland, a hanging crochet blanket which was the backdrop for the girls photobooth area. We also set up the umbrella with a blanket and some throw pillows for a sitting area. The cute mini glass drinking bottles from Little Sooti were wrapped in lace tape and really gave them a pretty look.

real parties: a bright sunshine-y 1st birthday

I’ve been a longtime admirer of the blog Grey Likes Weddings, but I only recently discovered that Summer also writes a family blog Grey Likes Baby.  I came upon a birthday party she styled for her nephew Hudson and fell head over heels in love.  The vibrant colors and variety of pom flowers, honeycombs, fans, flags etc are really just too cute to bear.  Even a handmade paper chandelier! She also set up a vintage toy buffet for the kids (‘and kids at heart’) including parachute men, card games, Japanese finger traps, kazoos and rubber glasses.  But you know, paper junkie that I am, my very favorite thing is actually the invitation... that cheerful sunshine print paired with a lined aqua envelope makes me swoon with pure happiness.

{images by t&h photography}

party inspiration board: mardi gras madness

Happy Fat Tuesday! As some of you know, I spent my college days in New Orleans and that crazy, crooked city is one of my favorite places in all the world. Mardi Gras is an incredible time to feel the life and spirit of the city... you just can’t help but get caught up in the whirlwind. Case in point: one year I chased Harry Connick Jr's float down over 10 city blocks, and nearly broke my arm in the process. Perhaps not my proudest moment, but you better believe I still have those Orpheus beads he threw me for my effort. But I digress... here's a little New Orleans flavor to perk up your day.  As they say in the Big Easy... Lassiez Les Bon Temps Roulez!

 {click to enlarge}

Photo Credits
Row 1: mask cookies via sweetopia; king cake via brooklyn farmhouse; bbq shrimp via martha stewart
Row 2: bengiets via epicurious; beads via one hungry mama
Row 3: confetti via etsy; cupcakes via my bakingdom
Row 4: mask via flickr; macarons via shop sucre; wreath via deep friend kudzu

real parties: hydrangea dessert table

I'm a bit late to the party, but I couldn't help sharing this lovely & delicate hydrangea dessert table from Susana of Citrus & Orange.  Not only because it's pretty and makes me happy, but also because I finally ordered one of these jadeite cake stands for my very own and that makes me happy too.  Susana designed the table for her 40th birthday, based on her love of green & lilac. She used milk glass from her personal collection and incorporated hydrangeas, her favorite flower {and mine}, in shades of lilac and purple throughout this gorgeous display.  

 {images by jorge garcia pereira}

pop rocks chocolate cake

Oh sweet, sweet innovation.  The other day a co-worker introduced me to a pop rocks infused chocolate bar and I was giddy with sheer joy after only one bite.  In an attempt to figure out to how to make this ingenious concoction at home, I stumbled upon something even better.  A pop rocks infused chocolate mousse cake.  Are you kidding me?  Aside from being the best idea to stem from an 80's candy, it's simply gorgeous!  The recipe is below, courtesy of Chubby Hubby but I must apologize... I was too busy lazy to complete the conversions from metric.  Please forgive me and make this awesomeness for my birthday?
{recipe & image via chubby hubby}

Pop Rocks Chocolate Cake

For the popping-candy base
85g whole hazelnuts
40g milk chocolate
2 tsp mixed spice
100g popping candy

For the chocolate mousse
350g dark chocolate
400ml double cream
Pinch of salt

For the chocolate glaze
20g chocolate (same type as for the mousse)
120ml water
8 whole coffee beans
Couple of pinches of salt
30g cocoa powder
70g unrefined golden caster sugar

To make the base, preheat the oven to 180C/ 350F/Gas Mark 4 and roast the hazelnuts for about 10 minutes until lightly coloured. Blend to a paste in a food processor, then set aside. Melt the milk chocolate in a bain-marie (a large basin over a saucepan of simmering shallow water — take care that the water does not touch the basin) and stir in the ginger spice and popping candy. Next, fold in the hazelnut purée. Place the 12 cm ring mould on a serving dish and gently press in the base mixture to a depth of about 1cm. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, until hard.

To make the mousse, chop the chocolate into small pieces and place in a metal bowl. Bring 150ml of the cream to the boil in a small saucepan. Pour it over the chopped chocolate and stir extremely gently until all the chocolate has melted, watching carefully to ensure it doesn’t take on a granular texture. Add the salt to taste. Once the chocolate cream has cooled to room temperature, lightly whip the remaining 250ml cream to soft peaks, but do not over whip. Fold into the chocolate mix. Pour over the base in the ring mould and place in the fridge to set for two hours.

To make the glaze, chop up the chocolate and set aside. Place the water, coffee beans and salt in a pan, whisk in the cocoa powder, then set over a medium heat and simmer for about 3 minutes. Meanwhile, put the sugar in a small pan and melt over a medium heat. Unrefined sugar will caramelise quickly, so keep an eye on it; when it does, pour over the coffee and cocoa mix — stand back, as it will bubble and spit. Beat in the chopped chocolate and, when melted, pass through a fine sieve. When cool, but still liquid, pour over the mousse to your preferred depth and return the cake to the fridge to set.

To serve, run a hot knife around the inside of the ring before removing the cake. When slicing it, again make sure the blade of the knife is nice and hot.

real parties: parisian circus soiree

I had tremendous fun helping Allison with some ideas for her 23rd birthday.  She decided on a Parisian Circus theme and the details she incorporated are utterly enchanting. Notice the umbrellas and lanterns hanging from the trees and the handwritten graphics on newsprint?  I often find that simple touches like these are what give a party it's unique appeal {and of course I can't neglect to mention the adorable lips, clown noses & mustaches for the guests!} Read on for more party details from Allison...

{images by david escalante}

I had about 30 people over for my party, which ended up taking place in my back yard. It was the perfect setting- evening, candle light, tons of food and friends and great music. We had a panini bar for dinner. All of the guests were able to create their own. The dessert bar was complete with raspberry cheesecake, funfetti cupcakes, kettle corn wrapped in newspaper, animal crackers, lemon bars, giant pixie sticks and of course cotton candy! In addition to the panini bar and dessert bar, we had a french soda bar where the guest could make there own coconut, raspberry or peach french soda. They were fantastic! 

Before we started the evening's festivities, we played a little fill in the blank game: who would most likely be the: ring master? trapeze artist, sword swallower, fire breather, tiger tamer, bearded lady etc. The person with the most votes on any given circus performer one a prize.