Thursday, July 12, 2012

Party for Baby J

Hopefully you've seen by now that I've done several sets of birthday invites for kids, had a birthday luncheon for my gran and baked and decorated a few yummies.  But for the first time I got to do all three for one party.  Can we say EXCITED?!  I gave a baby shower for my sister-in-law, Tiffany, who is expecting their second child, a boy, my nephew, in mid-July.  (As of the shower date, his parents hadn't chosen a name, so he will be referred to as Baby J.)  He will be welcomed home by big brudder Matthew -- you can see his birth announcement here.  At first, my mind was running in circles with ideas, and once I settled on a theme and did my research on what all I would need to pull this shower off, I quickly got overwhelmed.  But I got myself a spreadsheet and lists and lists and lists, and felt a little less overwhelmed.  But just a little.

I decided on a nursery rhyme theme.  I like to think of myself as a little bit old school and I wanted to do something a little more classic, but give it a slight modern twist.
Instead of working with just one rhyme, I decided to focus on six {because I can rarely just pick one thing!} and chose ones that were a little more boyish.  And for each rhyme, I had an invite, a food and a game.  I also started with the idea of having a centerpiece for each rhyme, but as details grew and grew I quickly realized it would make things a whole lot easier if I just had 6 of the same centerpieces.  But I'll get to all that later.

First things first, my six featured nursery rhymes:
Humpty Dumpty
Little Boy Blue
What Are Little Boys Made Of
Old Woman in the Shoe
Hey Diddle Diddle

The Invitations

I designed six different invitations, each featuring one of the rhymes.  I keep seeing chevrons everywhere and knew I wanted to incorporate them somehow.  Be trendy and all, ha ha.  I thought that would give it that modern twist that I was hoping for but I still wanted it to lean a little towards vintage.  I found these great drawings of each rhyme that were perfect for that vintage flare.  I printed the invites on white card stock, then layered them on varied brown card stocks.  In keeping with the theme, I cut out squares of Kraft paper and folded them into envelopes.  I also designed address labels that coordinated with the invitations.

Each invitation included a map to the party's location, a note to bring a pack of diapers to be entered in a raffle for a prize (a game inspired by Rub-a-Dub-Dub, Three Men in a Tub -- "Rub-a-Dub-Dub, Fill Up the Tub With Diapers"), and the guestbook card.  I asked each guest to sign their card and then write down their favorite nursery rhyme.  My plan is to take these cards and compile them into an interactive reminder for Tiffany of the shower.

The Party

There aren't many options in my small town to hold a nice party, and my house is too small for the number invited, so I opted for our local Chamber of Commerce meeting hall.  The space was the right size and, except for the paneled walls and past Presidents' pictures hanging on the wall, it wasn't bad.

I placed six tables in a U-shape, covered each with white tablecloths, then diagonally layered blue and green tissue paper as a runner along the entire U.  Each table had a centerpiece of a mini-galvanized bucket filled with mints.  The bucket's ribbon handle had three balloons tied to it.  A picture frame featuring one of the six rhymes sat next to each bucket.

I also used glass milk bottles as vases filled with Baby's Breath.  The bottles were wrapped in burlap ribbon, then overlaid with a satin ribbon featuring a toile-like nursery rhyme design.  How perfect!  That was probably my most exciting find!

The welcome table featured a simple arrangement of Baby's Breath and white Peonies.  The vase was also wrapped in the burlap ribbon then overlaid with a simple blue ribbon.  The "guestbook" was a bulletin board covered in brown fabric then edged with the same blue ribbon.  I then strung twine across the board and provided mini-clothespins for guests to hang their "favorite rhyme cards."  It was a great display to see everyone's favorites.  I also provided a book of rhymes, just in case anyone needed a reminder.  :)

See that awesome easel?  My hubby made it (:
The welcome table also featured the first game, inspired by "There Was an Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe."

"Just How Many Children Does the Old Woman Have?"

 Other games included:
Inspired by Little Boy Blue:  "Don't Wake Little Boy Blue!"
Each person that brought a gift was given a whistle.  One of the whistles had been disabled.  As Tiffany opened each person's gift, they were asked to blow their "horn."  If their "horn" sounded, they had unfortunately woken Little Boy Blue.  But the one person who's horn didn't blow claimed the prize as the person who didn't wake the sleeping boy.

Inspired by Humpty Dumpty:  "How Many Humpties Does it Take?"
Guests were asked to divide into groups of two or three people.  Each group was given a bag of eggs.  Each egg was filled with pictures of essential parts to a nursery, i.e. crib, rocker, etc.  Each group was also given a pack of crayons, glue and blank paper.  Even though all the king's men and all the king's horses couldn't put Humpty together again, guests were asked to put together Tiffany's new nursery.  In 10 minutes, they had to design a nursery that Tiffany would choose as winner.

Inspired by What are Little Boys Made of:  "Baby Boys are Made of What?!"
Guests were asked to list as many baby things as they could using the letters from the words snips, snails, and puppy dog tails.
*Note on this game:  the preparer {i.e. me} should have checked to see what and how many baby words could in fact be made using those letters.  Apparently, not many.  But I think everyone had fun trying.  :)

The Menu

Each nursery rhyme had a corresponding food.  This most definitely took some imagination.  There were certain foods I knew I wanted to make because I knew the guest of honor really liked them.  So tying them to a certain rhyme was a feat, but I think it worked out well.

"Humpty Dumpty's Deviled Noggin"
*no Humpty's were harmed in the making of this dish*
{ranch deviled eggs}

"Snails & Snips Chips & Dips"

"The Candlestick Maker's Taper Crackers"

"Jumping Cow's Cheese"
"The Butcher's Best Cuts"

"Puppy Dog Tails Sandwiches"
{turkey and pesto jack cheese wrapped in mini crescent rolls}
*They kinda look like puppy's tails, right??*

The sweets called for quite a bit of creativity, but none so much as the strawberry dessert.  Tiffany had seen this idea on Pinterest and really wanted to have them at the shower.  So did I, ha ha!  But figuring out how to work them in with the rhymes I had made my brain really work.  

But I think I found a pretty good solution:

"Why the Dish Ran Away with the Spoon"
{strawberries stuffed with cheesecake, dipped in crushed graham crackers, and served on spoons}
And as good as these were, I can see why the dish took off with the spoon!

"Little Boy Blue's Haystacks"
{pecans & brown sugar finely blended together with butter, wrapped in pie crust}

"The Baker's Cream Delight Cupcakes"
{chocolate cupcakes filled with cheesecake, topped with whipped cream cheese frosting}

To quench our thirst, we had "The Old Woman in the Shoe's Sweet Broth," a punch recipe I've had nearly forever that we used at my wedding, parties, Tiffany's wedding and everyone loves it.

The food was yummy in our tummies, if I say so myself. :)

The Favors

As a parting gift, I didn't want to do typical favors.  I wanted to give something that wouldn't immediately end up in the trash can when the guests got home.  And I hope I achieved that.  I also struggled with a favor that coordinated with my selected rhymes.  But it occurred to me, maybe I could introduce one more rhyme, and maybe it should be that one obvious rhyme you think of with babies:  Pat-a-Cake, Pat-a-Cake.  So after some brainstorming, and a little Pinspiration, I came up with these:

The candles smelled sooooo good and so vanilla-y that I knew they would make the perfect "cake."  I think this was my favorite element of the whole shower.  But it took a lot of baby food to make these happen.  Good thing my other half will eat just about anything. ;)

Thankfully, I timed the shower just right.  Not even a week after the shower, little Zachary Robert made his appearance on July 5.  Welcome to the family cutie pie!

I really couldn't be more pleased with how it all turned out.  Of course, not everything went according to plan, but that's the problem with planning, right?

I hope you enjoyed this little shower "tour."  My Aunt Shirley asked me if I was going into party planning now.  Maybe.  :)

I'd also like to throw out an amazing THANK YOU to my dear hubby.  He was very much ready for this shower to be over with, ha ha, but he was also SO supportive of my random thoughts and bits and parts laying around the house and such a big help while I was going a bit crazy planning.  I really don't think I could have pulled this off without him!  Although I don't think he minded much being my taste-tester! ;)

ta ta for now...

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

{Re*Made}: Lil' Blue Dress Makeover

So here it is July, and it seems I've failed to complete my little design resolution.  Well, yes and no.  I started May's project in May, but only just recently completed it.  And I'm calling it a bust.  I'm so displeased with its turnout that I am not going to post pictures.  I attempted the makeover of a little wooden magazine rack that was left in the house.  It had a broken handle and some other minor cosmetic issues.  I painted it, tried to repair the handle, even added our monogram to the sides, but in the end, it just wasn't pretty, and I didn't like it.  I probably wasn't much inspired in May anyways.

May was a wild and difficult month for my husband and I.  It started with my giving notice at my work after making a decision to go back to school and study graphic design. Woo hoo! I am super excited about it and can't wait to learn more about design.   But literally the day after I gave notice, we found out our office will be shutting down due to budget issues.   Crazy!

We also lost my beautiful mother-in-law in mid-May, which was a little unexpected.  It most definitely has been hard to say good-bye and discover life without her.  She is already greatly missed.

On the more positive side of things, my husband was offered a new job towards the end of the month, and gave notice at his current job. We also celebrated my mom passing the one-month mark after being given one month to live. (We are currently going on the three-month mark!) I was also in full party planning mode for the baby shower I gave my sister-in-law this past weekend. My brain was constantly coming up with new ideas so I still have all these little notes and doodles lying around the house with shower ideas.  I'll be posting those pics soon, Woo hoo!

Some of that carried over into June but I was able to complete a project, though not one on my list.  I have actually removed one of those projects because I don't really need it anymore.  You'll see why soon.

(Hopefully I'm leaving you enough in suspense you'll want to come back, he he!)

So, June's *new* {Re*Made}. 

Every now and then, especially when I'm watching Project Runway, I think I could be a clothing designer.  I mean, come on, how hard can it be to pin fabric to a mannequin, right??  I can work a sewing machine, too.  To my credit, I have made myself a few shirts rather successfully, but they were following a pattern, not from scratch.  This project is about one such episode when I thought I could transform a plain-jane dress to something a little more special, and vintagey.  It's certainly no Project Runway winner, but I really like the way it turned out.

I had bought this cute little summer dress thinking it would be easy to wear and would go with anything.  But, I'm pretty particular when it comes to clothes (just ask my hubby!) and everything needs to match or coordinate or sometimes have a little somethin' extra.  And this dress needed a little somethin' extra.  It was just so blah.  Definitely easy-breezy, but boring.

I love, love, love the color though!  Peacock blue!

I actually pulled from a couple of places when I decided the dress needed some embellishment.  First, while baby shower shopping in my local craft store, I found these great little muslin flowers and I thought how cute would they be on the dress.  Then I remembered a while back my mom had shown me a ziploc baggie full of vintage lace she had acquired at an estate sale.  I found some eyelet trimming that I thought would be so cute around the bottom of the dress, and a wider piece of lace that I wanted to somehow use at the top.

First I added the eyelet trim to the bottom of the dress.  I kept the jersey fabric stretched a bit as I sewed so the eyelet would give a slight ruffle.

Then I hand-stitched the muslin flowers on just at the waist under the shirring.

Finally, I played with the wide lace.  First I tried cap sleeves, but I couldn't get it to lay right.  After fiddling with it a while, I decided to do a halter with the lace, and have it come to the front almost where my arm meets my shoulder rather than where a normal bra strap would sit.  It gave it a fun vintage look, but a little elegant too.

All in all, I think it turned out pretty cute.  I actually wore it to the baby shower and it was so comfy and the little halter lace helped keep it up, ha ha.  And even though I used vintage lace, this could easily be done with new stuff.  They actually had some great looking laces in the fabric department of that crafty store.

So, whadya think?

Makes me wanna embellish more stuff! :D
Have a good one!


Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Fork was a Spoon!

A little over two years ago I made a career decision that was in the opposite direction of what I "wanted to be when I grew up."  You may remember I spoke of that fork in the road when I made the decision to teach rather than design.  But within these past two years, I have learned so much about myself, things I probably never would have learned had things actually gone my way. 

See, when I graduated college, I knew exactly what I wanted to do:  residential interior design.  And my mind was set.  Suddenly, these golden doors opened and the perfect job presented itself to me.  And the first few months on the job, it was perfect.  But slowly, it fell off its pedestal, snail-like at first, until it finally just plopped onto the dirty floor.  And in that descent, I began to doubt myself:  Was I a good designer?  Should I have just been a nurse, or a teacher, or a maybe an accountant, or anything else?  Each day I dwelled on those thoughts until they consummed me and I was convinced.  I found myself at that afore mentioned fork in the road:  continue designing, which I'm not sure I like or I'm good at, or select a new career. 

As my faith has taught me, I prayed and prayed and prayed about it, until I felt like it was time to change careers, dragging my feet the whole way.  When I was much younger, I wanted to be a teacher, just like my first grade teacher.  She was wonderful and made me feel so at home in a new school.  Who wouldn't want to be like that?  So I figured I'd revert to my first love and seek a career in education.  What I realize now is that I was the one making the decisions, not the One I thought was, but perhaps that was the plan all along.  I wanted out of my job and was convinced I wasn't any good at it, so I needed to do something different.  I did all the necessary schooling to become a teacher but in the end, it wasn't right.  I couldn't deny my passion for design and after I got away from the unhappy work environment I realized I was good at design and had some really great ideas of my own. 

Now, I know what I want to do:  have my own little place to sell things that I love making, and hopefully at some point in the future I can have that.  I'm going back to school to get my graphic design degree.  I was given the amazing opportunity to renovate the little house I'm living in, which I hope you have enjoyed the posts about that.  I set a design resolution for myself, and with the exception of this past couple of months, that has been a great motivation to accomplish projects I've been wanting to do, and to get my creative juices flowing.  All of this has been proof to myself that I LOVE design, that it is in my blood and my soul, and when something is a part of you like that, you can't just turn away from it.

As I look back on the path that brought me to that realization, I see the fork and the direction I took, and see how it looped around and brought me back to the original destination.  Funny how life works out.  Or, as they say in one of my fav movies, Sweet Home Alabama:  "It's funny how things don't work out'.  'It's funny how they do."

I've got lots of catching up to do so look for a new {Spit*Shined}, a post on a baby shower I just threw, a sewing project and a couple others I think.  My camera is full of pictures!


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