Thursday, February 20, 2014

Quick peek at Juliet's "dreamy clouds" birthday party

Children's tea party{iPhone photos using the Pic Stitch app and edited using Afterlight}

This is going to be pretty light on the details but I wanted to post a quick peek at Juliet's 2nd birthday party from last weekend. For photos of the dessert table and a few other details check out my Instagram. The dessert table photo has the most likes I've ever received on Instagram. It came together really nicely and was a lovely vision of whites, golds and clouds. It's by far my favorite dessert table I've ever created.

Photos pictured left to right:

  • Paper items were made by Grace and Guy Paperie on Etsy (wait until you see her invitation!)
  • My little girl looking so pretty in her party outfit
  • This balloon cloud was such an awesome detail and it literally cost about $2.50 (all you need are about 30 balloons, string and tape). My mother-in-law made this after I showed her a photo on Pinterest (it took about 45 minutes). Thank you, Karen!
  • My sister-in-law, Nikki of Lovely Scribbles made this "Dream big little one" cake topper. It was beautiful and perfect and I loved it. She cut those letters out by hand!
  • Juliet's adorable dress was from Old Navy and I made her baby's breath crown with $4.50 flowers from Rainbow (I'll have details on how I made this in the full party post)
Callie V Photography took photos of the party which was awesome because I was too busy running around to take any photos with my DSLR camera. Once I get all the professional photos I'll be doing a huge post with tons of photos and details and of course, vendor credits. 

I haven't done all the math but I estimated that we spent about $400 on her party (not including photography). Almost all of the decor was DIY and therefore low cost. The food was appetizers, snacks (for the kids) and dessert and everything was purchased at Trader Joe's or Aldi (except the cake and cupcakes which were made by one of Erik's coworkers). We had wine and beer because I am a firm believe in booze at all parties, even kid's parties. Did I mention I cracked open a beer about an hour before the party began? It kept me relaxed and was a very good idea.

I hope you enjoyed this little peek!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A kid's tea party lunch

Children's tea partyJuliet's little hand sneaking food while I try to take a photo is basically her signature move

I had the day off yesterday so Juliet and I had a momma/daughter day. We got tons of snow the night before which meant no leaving the house. We didn't leave the house at all the day before either so I was a bit worried that we would have a serious case of cabin fever. We need some ideas for things to keep us entertained.

My mom and I were texting earlier in the day and she suggested that I make Juliet a real tea party. She loves having tea parties after all and I thought it was an awesome idea. So I whipped up this little tea party which we had for lunch and it ended up being such a fun time.

I think there is a novelty for little kids to have lunch somewhere new (in our case on the kid's table in Juliet's playroom). At least Juliet really seemed to think it was an exciting adventure.She gobbled up almost everything I served and continuously clinked my plastic tea cup with an enthusiastic "cheers!".
Children's tea partyTea party menu:

Heart-shaped grilled cheese tea sandwiches (tip: use coconut oil instead of butter on the bread, it makes the grilled cheese perfectly crispy and so delicious). I use heart-shaped fondant cutters which works like a charm.
Coconut flour mini banana chocolate chip muffins
Banana chocolate chip baked donuts 
Edamame and carrots with hummus
Strawberries, blackberries and grapes (not pictured)
Animal crackers

We always have a bunch of frozen baked goods which helps with quick breakfasts and snacks.
Children's tea partyLittle sweetie is quite serious about tea time. Children's tea partyI even put a white lace tablecloth on the kid's table. This ended up being a terrible idea because Juliet got chocolate all over it. Oh well, it went straight to the washing machine.

Everything was served on pretty little plates that I found at Good Will years ago.
Children's tea partyCheers!

It was the perfect activity for a wintry day. And the best part was it didn't require any extra effort then making a regular lunch for Juliet and yet adding this little tea party touch made it really special for her.

I thought I'd post our tea party adventure as a tip for any of you mommas with little ones (not that having a tea party is a unique idea by any means, but I never thought of whipping one up for her on a regular day like today). This would actually be a fun lunch for girlfriends as well, though you might want to swap out the grilled cheese for tea sandwiches (though who am I kidding, grilled cheese is the bomb).

Do you have any suggestions for fun activities to keep young ones entertained?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Juliet's "dreamy clouds" 2nd birthday party inspiration

Juliet's dreamy clouds 2nd birthday partyI really shouldn't be blogging right now and prepping for Juliet's party instead but I'm tired and have already worked on a few projects this evening (for a peek at those projects check out my Instagram). Juliet went to bed early because she isn't feeling the best. I really really really hope she is feeling better by Saturday. Last year she got strep throat a couple days before her party and while she was no longer contagious she was a bit out of sorts on her birthday.

I am so excited about her party on Saturday and so is Juliet. She has mastered singing happy birthday and she knows her birthday is February 16th. She tries hard but can't quite figure out how to hold up two fingers yet. Maybe by the weekend.

I can't really explain my creative process and how I came up with the theme "dreamy clouds" but I think it had to do with the fact that Juliet loves these two lamb stuffed animals that she calls her "yammies". I pondered doing a lamb-theme but that didn't feel right and then I started thinking about an all white cloud theme playing off lamb's fluffy wool. When I thought all white I thought that sounded really dreamy and loved that idea. I added in some sparkly gold and there you go, "dreamy clouds".

My party philosophy is all about celebrating the guest of honor with lots of pretty details, great food and personal touches wherever possible. It's really not my style to spend a ton of money on the parties I host so I always do a lot of DIY projects and try to find deals wherever possible. Juliet's party dress was $16 and from Old Navy and it is absolutely perfect. I'm using baby's breath because it's so airy, light and pretty and also it's super affordable. I am planning on making Juliet a little baby's breath headband to wear but my gut is saying she won't keep it on so maybe I won't bother.

I'll have a few activities for the kiddos (there will be about 9 kids between the ages of 10 weeks and 5 years) like coloring, glueing cotton balls to make little clouds on paper and most importantly, a dance party. Juliet loves to listen to her favorite song (Move It Move It) and dance like crazy. It's one of my favorite things to watch her do.

I'm also really excited for the kiddos party favors. A couple of my favorite kid's product companies are providing product for the favors and we'll have a 4-pack of Little Green Pouches and puzzles from HABA toys as well as a few things I'll be adding.

As far as food we are serving appetizers, snacks and dessert. The party is 3pm-5pm so we don't need to do a full dinner which is nice because appetizers are my favorite anyway. And it'll be easier with the kiddos to just serve snacks. We'll have a blend of healthy and not so healthy snacks (from fruit to animal crackers to smoothies in Little Green Pouches and mac n cheese bites).

Dessert is going to be a white and gold candy table (candy is being provided from Sweet Works, they have gold Sixlets! So awesome) and I am making cloud sugar cookies with royal icing, plus we'll have a cake and cupcakes. I should probably apologize in advance for the sugar rush the kids will have.

I am working with Shannon from Grace and Guy Paperie on Etsy for all the paper items. She designed incredibly perfect invitations and is making placecards and signs (including signs with my favorite dream quotes to display around the party). If you are in need of paper goods for an upcoming party I suggest checking her out. She does really nice work and is super responsive and reasonably priced.

Here is my Pinterest board for the party if you're interested in seeing more. And be sure to follow me on Instagram as I'll definitely be posting a few photos the day of the party.

My baby girl is almost 2. The past 2 years have honestly been like a really good dream, so this theme is very fitting. I couldn't possibly love her more. 

Photo credits/links:

Cloud cake 
Cloud cookies 
Chiffon-rosette tulle dress
Baby's breath headband 
Follow Your Dreams print
Powered sugar donut tower

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Real party: Juliet's "baby love" first birthday, part 2

Thanks for stopping by part two of Juliet's "baby love" first birthday party.  Part two has all the sweet dessert details and best part of all...the cake smash!

Click here for part one.

We set up a simple and lovely little dessert table.  We displayed Juliet's smash cake along with cupcakes, macarons, cookies, cake pops and candy.  We also had two more cakes that were displayed on the brunch buffet.  

I loved the heart backdrop and it was pretty easy to make as well as low cost.  My sister-in-law cut out all the hearts by hand (this was before I figured out how to use the Cricut).  Total cost of the backdrop was probably about $15, including the foam core and paper.  I'd like to frame this and hang it in Juliet's playroom.  

Photo credits to Jessica Rose Photography, unless otherwise noted.  
I super loved Juliet's invitations.  I made them using a printable template from Onto Baby.  The glittery gold paper was so pretty and the heart design was perfect.   Rock candy is so silly, isn't it?  No one eats it.  Literally it's sole purpose is looking pretty, which it does.  Good thing I found it for only $5 at Party City.   The smash cake was so adorable.  Erik made it!!!  We had high ambitions to make a somewhat healthy, carrot cake recipe from Wholesome Baby Food but by the time I went grocery shopping for ingredients it was already 9pm the night before the party.  So we ended up with a yellow cake mix. Regardless, Erik baked it and frosted it perfectly.

My brother's girlfriend (we call her Lumbie) made the awesome heart cake toppers.
  The beautiful macarons were purchased from Cocoa and Fig on Valentines Day.  They had tiny white hearts on top.  Guess how many were eaten at the end of the party?  Only one.  What the heck?  I guess people filled up on cake.  

I made simple cupcake toppers using gold paper, a mini heart punch, toothpicks and glue.  
It's hard to tell in the photos, but the fabric on the dessert table was gold with little flecks of gold glitter.  It could have used our steam machine to get the wrinkles out but who has time for that?!!!  
I found the fabric at JoAnn Fabrics and after using a coupon and geting another discount (thank you Katie) for a black smudge on a corner, I only spent $9 on it.  The fabric was used as a tablecloth on the dessert table, drink table and as the photobooth backdrop.  
Each dessert had a pretty label.  Aren't these cakes lovely?  They're from Target Bakery.  I ordered two for $16.99 each and they were delicious. I brought a photo of rossette frosting to show the baker and they said they could easily do it.  I was really happy with how the cakes turned out.  We had a white cake with vanilla buttercream frosting and raspberry filling and a chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream.  Pretty little heart-shaped sugar cookies from  Fun Sugar Cookie Etsy shop. If you are a parent, then you know the cake smash is where it's at for first birthday parties.  This is the moment I waited for all day and was super excited about.  I knew my girl would love her cake and I couldn't wait to see her adorable face covered in sugary frosting.  My heart was exploding in my chest as we sang Juliet happy birthday.

She was actually quite dainty about tasting her cake at first, and then she dug in a bit more.   Mmmmmmmmmm. Yum, yum.   Sorry for the cake smash photo overload, but seriously...her big eyes...her adorable frosting covered face.  I love these photos.   The party was lovely, right?   It was everything I dreamed it would be. The details were just perfect, the food was great and all my family and close friends were there.  But my girl?  Well, she was a bit of a crab cake during the party, as well as the entire weekend of her birthday.  

Juliet is very rarely crabby.  She is a happy girl 95% of the time.  The weekend of her birthday was the crabbiest I've ever seen her.  I think it was because she was getting over strep throat and she had been kept home from daycare for three days to recover and feel good for her party.  She was out of her routine and missing daycare.  Also, I'm sure she could feel her momma's stress from party planning as well as the fact that I was a bit emotional leading up to her birthday...and well, babies are intuitive like that.  She was probably feeding off my energy.  

Despite the fact that she was a bit fussy during the party, I am also quite sure she enjoyed it, including eating her cake, opening presents and seeing friends and family.  Oh, and she loved the heart-shaped pancakes, too!  

No, she wasn't perfectly happy during her party.  But it was still a perfect day and she's my perfect girl, crabbiness and all. 

She was also getting a bit sleepy at this point.  I was asking her to "stay awake just a bit longer my dearest, it's almost time to open presents!!!"
I set up a "photobooth" in Juliet's playroom using gold fabric and a pink heart banner.  We had some fun props like heart-shaped sunglasses, a gold frame, a love sign and a sign that said "love is sweet".

These photos were taken with a digital camera.
Above photobooth pics taken with Instagram on my iPhone.

Let's have some cake!
I know I've said I had a lot of favorite details of the day...but honestly and truly one of my absolute favorite details was this photo slideshow.  I put it together the week before Juliet's party and we played it on our big screen TV for all our guests.  It was 3 minutes of our sweet girl's first year and I made sure to include photos with beloved grandparents and other family members who helped make this year so wonderful.

You can see in the photo above that Erik and I both look a bit wistful while watching the slideshow.  I was emotional and Erik actually admitted that "he started getting a little teary and had to get up and walk around".  If you knew my husband you would realize how crazy that is for him to get that emotional and then admit it!  What can I say, becoming a mom/dad changes you.

And there you have it.  Juliet's "baby love" first birthday party.

Juliet, you are my sweet little love, my darling one year old girl.  This party was such a wonderful celebration, all for you.  You deserved each fleck of gold glitter, every sugary taste of frosting, the crazy amount of presents.  Every little heart displayed at this party was a HUGE symbol of our love for you.  We love you so, so much.  Happy birthday.

Vendor credits:

Photography: Jessica Rose Photography
Event styling: Jenna of Eat Drink Pretty
Macarons: Cocoa and Fig
Rosette cakes: Target bakery
Mini heart sugar cookies: Fun Sugar Cookie Etsy shop
Invitations and placecards: Printable template from Onto Baby

Monday, March 4, 2013

Real party: Juliet's "baby love" first birthday, part 1

I am super excited to post Juliet's "baby love" first birthday party!! Of all the many parties I've hosted, this is one of my favorites.  I was, after all, celebrating my sweet little love's first birthday.  What a reason to celebrate!  Her first year brought more joy than I ever could have imagined and while this party was a big celebration, I quietly celebrate her every. single. day.

I'm not exactly sure how I came up with the idea to do a "baby love" party, but I think I just wanted something relatively simple and something that conveyed the sweetness that is my baby girl and my enormous love for her. So "baby love" it became. Also, since her birthday is so close to Valentine's Day, I thought it was fitting.

I chose a pretty color scheme of light pink and sparkly gold.  All of the decor and details from the party are being re-purposed into Juliet's playroom.

I loved planning Juliet's party and I love how it all came together. I was fortunate to have lots of help from family and friends leading up to the party.  One important thing I've learned since having a baby is to not be afraid to ask for help.  I have an awesome, supportive family who is always here anytime I need them. They all helped and I appreciate it so much.

We held Juliet's party on her actual birthday on Saturday, February 16th. Erik and my immediate families were invited plus my closest four girlfriends and their families. In total, we had about 27 people over.

I'm going to break Juliet's party into two parts because I have tons and tons of photos.  Jessica of Live the Fancy Life blog photographed the party.  She recently started consulting (for event planning as well as PR) and she also has a side business doing photography called Jessica Rose Photography.  I knew the day was already going to be crazy enough getting ready for the party, while taking care of a toddler, and I didn't want the added stress of having to take my own photos.  Hiring Jessica was the best decision.

Photo credits to Jessica Rose Photography.When guests arrived, they were greeted with a "LOVE" table.  I asked everyone to write a "love letter" to Juliet using a pink heart.  I'll keep these in her baby box and we can read them when she's older.

Erik spent the couple weeks leading up to the party helping with odds and ends, like spray painting these frames and the giant mirror gold.  I have been planning on getting that up for a while and Juliet's party finally motivated us to hang it!  The mirror was a $16 find at Good Will.  Spray paint was an additional $15.  I found these cute heart pillows at Target before Valentine's Day and had them on our couches.

Above the table, we displayed cute LOVE prints I ordered on Etsy and a photo of Juliet from her recent one year session.



I bought the letters at Michaels and had Erik spray paint them gold. Showing the birthday girl her party decorations. This pink yarn wreath with a mini heart banner was on the front door the day of the party. I made this "One" sign (and most of the heart decorations) using a Cricut machine from Staples. The Cricut is awesome and once I figured out how to use it (took me a couple hours) it saved me a lot of time. It cuts shapes and letters with all different fonts.  I will get tons of use out of this thing for all my future party planning!
We had a pretty little display on our mantle above our fireplace.  The love printed frame and all the photos are always there and I added the heart banner, pink yarn wreath with a gold heart and the beautiful "chalkboard". This chalkboard sign was one of my favorite details of the day, made by my sister-in-law, Nikki of Lovely Scribbles.  I saw something similar on Pinterest and sent her a photo asking if she could make it for Juliet's party.  Nikki used a piece of black foam core and luckily chalk worked well on it.  It looks like a real chalkboard at a fraction of the price.  The foam core was only $8 at Michaels and Nikki already had the chalk.

We featured Juliet's "loves" on the sign.  Isn't it just awesome?  I love it so much I haven't taken it down. Hearts, hearts and more hearts. We had a drink table set up in the dining room and above it I strung a ribbon with monthly photos of Juliet.  Each photo had a little pink heart in the upper corner with her age.  I love seeing how much she's grown month-to-month, 12 whole months of my little, beautiful girl.  
We used pretty pink and white striped drink straws for "build-your-own-mimosas".We kept drinks pretty easy and offered water, orange juice, coffee and mimosas.

See that pretty Jenny Lind high chair?  I found it on Craigs List and Erik spray painted it white (this was sort of last minute and the chair could have really used a second coat).  This was supposed to be Juliet's smash cake chair but we ended up not using it (Juliet was happy in her other high chair and we decided not to chance it by transferring her).  We had a little "fake" cake smash in Juliet's one year photo session so we still have cute photos of her in this chair.

Yes, I dressed in theme.  Target had this cute pink heart sweater that I couldn't pass up for her party.

Juliet's party was a brunch (my favorite...and Juliet loves it too!).

Here is the menu:

Ham and cheese quiche
Quiche Lorraine
Three cheese quiche
Spinach and cheese quiche
Roasted red breakfast potatoes
Build-your-own-fruit-and-yogurt-parfaits (vanilla yogurt in individual cups with strawberries and granola mix-ins)
Donuts
Heart-shaped pancakes

Almost all of the food was store-bought.  I love the frozen quiche from Byerlies.  Honestly, I've learned to be ok with having store-bought food at my parties.  With a baby (toddler!!!) there is not as much time for homemade goodies.
I used a mini heart punch and glued hearts on each cup for the build-your-own-yogurt-parfaits. Can't have a brunch without a donut tower.  The kiddos loved the donuts. Another one of my favorite details were these heart-shaped pancakes.  I have to give a big shout-out to my mother-in-law, Karen.  She came into town for the weekend and helped out so much.  Karen and Erik made all the pancakes the night before and cut them the morning of (using a heart-shaped cookie cutter).

Aren't they so super cute?  Idea from Pinterest.

My beautiful little birthday girl!!!  She wore a cute, heart ruffly dress from Old Navy with a pink heart headband from Gap.

Playing with her "desserts" and her new play kitchen.
Hanging with grandma.
Please stay tuned for part two including the invitations, dessert table, photo booth and cake smash photos!!!

Update: click here for part two!  

Vendor credits:

Photography: Jessica Rose Photography
Event styling: Jenna of Eat Drink Pretty
Each beat of my heart Etsy print (in yellow and pink): Etsy Hairbrained Schemes shop 
I love you this much Etsy print (in hot pink): Etsy Hairbrained Schemes shop 
Heart banners, One sign: Cricut Machine from Staples 
"Chalkboard" love sign: Lovely Scribbles
Placecards: Printable template from Onto Baby

Disclosure: Staples provided me with the Cricut Machine.  All the opinions are my own.