Thursday, July 28, 2011

Real party: elephant and balloon first birthday

This beautiful event was submitted by Susana and Clara of Dulce Sobremesa. They designed this sweet, modern elephant and balloon party for Mateo's first birthday party. 

As told by Susana and Clara:

"We designed the garlands, labels, little elephants and the table decorations. Everything was handmade by us (no printer used!) We also designed a mini-cake so that Mateo could blow out his first birthday candle! This event took place in Valencia, Spain."

Such gorgeous, clean details! Thanks so much to Susana and Clara for sending this party my way!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Real party: the ultimate summer hoedown BBQ

The hoedown BBQ my husband and I hosted was so much fun. I'm not sure what it was exactly, maybe the fact that just saying the word "hoedown" is cool, having perfect 83 degree weather with no humidity and plenty of sunshine, or an abundance of great food and drinks. Or obviously, all of the above.

Enjoy the TONS of photos I'vde included, plus a fun hoedown menu with links to Reddi Wip recipes.

Here's a little history on how this party came to group of friends and I have a "BBQ Club". This basically means that once a month we rotate hosting a BBQ at our house. July was Erik's and my month. A couple months ago, a rep from Reddi Wip contacted me about the ultimate summer BBQ project. The project consisted of 6 party bloggers hosting BBQs and incorporating Reddi Wip into the menu. It was a perfect fit since I already had the BBQ on the calendar and I actually really like Reddi Wip (my girlfriends and I always eat it with fruit as dessert when we feel like eating something sweet but don't want to splurge on all the cals).

The rest is hoedown history.

I focused on a few main details but didn't bother with stationery or labels.  My friends wouldn't really notice that stuff.  What they would notice?  Great food.  And there was plenty of that. 

I purchased sunflowers at the St. Paul Farmers' Market and placed them in mason jars.  The red and white gingham tablecloths were from JoAnn Fabrics.  The hay bales totally made the hoedown vibe come to life.  HUGE thanks to my friend Jason for picking those up for me. 

We set up a drink station in the middle of the hay bales with iced tea, lemonade and Miller High Life.  Erik claimed that beer paired perfectly with a hoedown.  I suppose he was right. 

My cute sister and I with mini BLTs.  These were a big hit. 
Here is the appetizer table that included watermelon, veggies and dip, mini BLTs and chips.  I never, ever forget about chips.
Mini BLTs are so easy.  I basically just take prepared, refrigerated biscuits, bake them in the oven, cut them in half and top with a slice of tomato, a teaspoon of mayo, a small piece of lettuce and one piece of bacon. 
Veggies and dip for those healthy types.  I forced myself to eat these between huge handfuls of potato chips. 
I made a couple different boozey popsicles.  One with rum and the other with champagne.  Both had homemade raspberry simple syrup.  They received mixed reviews. What I came to believe is the more drinks my guests had, the more likely they were to enjoy the popsicles.  I think the boozey flavor concentrates as it freezes.

Biffer is on the right.  He dressed up and looked awesome. His overalls were a bit short though!

Reddi Wip bunting that we hung in the tent.
You can't have a hoedown without fried chicken.  We catered it from The Coop in South St. Paul.  It's delicious, if you are ever in the area check it out.

I made a quick bunting banner with bandanas.  It was easy, fold a bandana in half (from JoAnn Fabrics) and tie each end to a string. 
Grilled corn on the cob was on the menu as well.  Shirts were coming off for some reason at this point in the day. 

We had little cowgirls and cowboys enjoying the party as well. 
That's my cute hubs working the grill. 
We had no shortage of Reddi Wip desserts.  This was a berry pudding trifle that I made in mini mason jars.  Perfect for individual servings. 

These were easy and called strawberries on a cloud.  They tasted like little bites of cake. But they are much lighter.  You only need one or two to satisfy your sweet tooth.
You can't have a hoedown without some pie and a good old fashioned pie eating contest.  Three brave men participated.  But only one could win.

Untitled from jenna marfori lang on Vimeo.

Pie eating contests are funny and messy. Sorry for the crazy, dizzy video at the beginning. My sister is an amateur at taking video. I was busy screaming/laughing and taking photos.

Tardiff (on the left) was victorious.  Biffer (Jason) came in second but also ended up with a blueberry up his nose.  Willie gave his all but came in third.  Good job guys. 

Each guest left the party with a packet of Reddi Wip recipes, Reddi Wip coupons and a cocktail shaker from Crate and Barrel.  Pretty sweet, huh?
Here are a few fun facts. Reddi Wip is:
  • An easy way to transform berries into a light and creamy summer dessert – with none of the guilt.
  • A fun treat to top your family’s favorite fruit – no matter the occasion.
  • Made with real dairy cream and with only 15 calories per serving, it’s a treat you can feel good about eating any day of the week.
Hoedown menu

Mini BLTs
Veggies and dip

Main Course
Fried chicken
German potato salad
Cucumber salad
Baked beans

Strawberries on a cloud
Berry pudding trifle
Apple pie with Reddi Wip
Blueberry pie with Reddi Wip

Big thanks to Reddi Wip for sponsoring my BBQ!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Sneak peek: hoedown!

The hoedown BBQ my husband and I hosted yesterday was a huge success!

If you haven't noticed by all my tweets and recent posts, this BBQ was sponsored by Reddi Wip. Brands reach out to bloggers often and sometimes it's not a good fit...but every once in a while it is a perfect match, this happened to be one of those times.

Reddi Wip partnered with bloggers to throw the ultimate summer BBQ. They helped pay for the event and also provided all the dishware, drink dispensers and mason jars. I already had a BBQ planned for July so I was thrilled.  Plus, Reddi Wip colors fit right in with my hoedown theme.

Reddi Wip sent recipes for fun desserts such as a berry pudding trifle and strawberries on a cloud. I'll have a full post with recipes and tons of photos tomorrow!

Yee haw :)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Boozy popsicles

{Photo credits: Bakers Royale}

Homemade popsicles with a bit of booze sound like a really good idea, don't they? I'm going to give these a try for my Hoedown BBQ on Sunday. 

Honeydew cucumber margarita popsicles
Blackberry prosecco popsicle

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Hoedown BBQ inspiration board

{Photo credits: Country Living}

Erik and I are hosting a BBQ on Sunday with a small group of friends and some family.  I decided on a good old-fashioned hoedown.

Here are some of my ideas:

"Hoedown Hits-the-Spot" signature drink: alcoholic popsicles
A corn-on-the-cob eating contest
Hay bales (if I can find them)
Bandana decor (I'm thinking of making bunting or some kind of banner)
Red and white gingham tablecloths
On the menu: still TBD but maybe fried chicken, homemade biscuits, corn-on-the-cob, etc. All the dessert recipes are from Reddi-wip.
Square dancing music?! Maybe.
Cowboy hats

Sounds like fun doesn't it?  Lots of photos to be posted early next week!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Real party: a sweet baby blessing

This sweet blessing celebration was sent to me by Kaysi, mom to baby Kruz. This party was 100% DIY from the centerpieces to all the (gorgeous) cupcakes.

Kaysi had her whole family over for a brunch after the blessing and included tons of gorgeous details.

Thanks to Kaysi for sending this sweet party my way. Your little guy is so adorable!

I won't be back with new posts until Thursday morning. I'm sorry but I need to face reality and I won't have time this week for the blog. I'm traveling for work on Monday for a new business pitch so please send happy/positive thoughts and vibes my way on Tuesday at 11am - 2:30pm CT. I will be a whole new, much more relaxed version of myself on Wedneday.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Spicy grapefruit margarita

{Photo credit: Bon Appetit}

I am a huge fan of margaritas.  I especially love sipping them on patio on a nice, summer day.  So when I saw this one in the latest issue of Bon Appetit magazine I was intrigued, habanero chiles in margaritas? 

What do you think, yes or no? 

Spicy grapefruit margarita (recipe from Bon Appetit)


2 cups plus 2 tablespoons tequila
1-2 habanero chiles, halved
Kosher salt
6 cups fresh pink grapefruit juice


Mix tequila and chiles in a large pitcher. Let steep 3 hours, or longer if a spicier tequila is desired. Discard chiles. Cover; chill.

Pour enough water onto a small plate to cover. Pour enough salt onto another small plate to cover by 1/4". Dip rims of eight 12-ounce. glasses into water, then into salt to lightly coat; fill with ice. Add grapefruit juice to pitcher with tequila. Fill with ice; stir until cold. Divide drink among glasses.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Real party: a black/white foodie bridal shower

Libby's shower was a huge success and you'll see there was no shortage of food or cocktails.  That's my kind of shower.

I planned a black/white foodie-themed shower for Libby because her wedding colors are black and white and she is a huge foodie, I like to keep themes personal and relevant.  I incorporated a lot of Libby's favorite foods into the Italian-inspired menu.

Special thanks to Libby's sisters and future sister-in-laws for helping to provide the booze!  And a HUGE thank you to my friend Kristin who helped out with the shower all day.

Here are all the details...
I served a "Blackberry Bridetini" signature cocktail which consisted of homemade blackberry simple syrup, vodka and club soda.  The drink was light and refreshing with a hint of sweetness. 
The template for the paper goods is from the Wedding Chicks blog (meant for wedding invitations but I used the scroll for the bridal shower invitation and carried it through with menu cards).
For a non-alcoholic option we had Italian soda from Trader Joes.
Here's Libby, the cute bride-to-be sipping her Blackberry Bridetini.
Kristin, my helper for the day....taking a well-deserved break for a cocktail.
I served cheese and bread/crackers/fruit as an appetizer.  Libby is obsessed with bread and cheese.  I also created a mini crostini bar.  Guests could build their own crostini and choose from three toppings; bruschetta, white bean and caper and artichoke parmesan (full menu below with links to recipes).

More bread than we needed.  One thing I have learned...though I think I can plan one bad-ass party, I have no idea how to estimate appropriate amounts of food.  I bought way too much food and now have 2 pounds of mozzarella, 2 baguettes and dozens of cupcakes sitting in my fridge.

We served Italian pasta salad (brought by Libby's sister-in-law, Suzie) and proscuitto-wrapped melon with a lime drizzle for lunch.
Build-your-own caprese sandwiches served with foccacia or ciabbata.  The gorgeous basil is from the Mpls Farmers' Market.

By the time we served dessert everyone had eaten quite a bit plus it was 90 degrees out. was hot as hell.  But for an outdoor shower I will take heat over rain any day.

Dessert included brownie bites (made by Kristin, they were a big hit) and I made oreo cupcakes. I brought these to work on Monday and received rave reviews.

I decorated the tent with black and white paper lanterns.  Thanks to my hubs and brother-in-law, Drew for helping with set-up.
I kept the flowers pretty simple with white mums and hydrangea purchased from Trader Joes for only $12.  I put them in bud vases, apothecary jars and varying sizes of cylinder vases. 

Libby received a wedding tree as a gift from her mom (purchased from Etsy) that will be her guest book at the wedding.  Guests put a finger print on the tree and sign their name, great idea for a fall wedding (Libby got the idea from our friend Nicole who is getting married in October.)

Now for the full menu:

Italian menu

Build-your-own crostini; bruschetta (purchased from Trade Joes, white bean and caper, artichoke parmesan)

Main course
Build-your-own caprese sandwiches
Proscuitto-wrapped melon with a lime drizzle
Italian pasta salad
Parmesan garlic kettle chips

Brownie bites
Oreo cupcakes

Blackberry bridetini (blackberry simple syrup, vodka, club soda)
Italian soda
White wine
Red wine

Whew, hungry yet?!

Congrats to Libby and Jason on their upcoming wedding!  I can't wait!