A BaByQ

 

 

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I think it is so adorable how someone figured out that you can put an ‘a’ and a ‘y’ between BBQ.  It is so adorable and that is exactly the driving force behind this event.  My cousin is pregnant with her second girl and wanted to celebrate the bun in the oven with something simple and sweet with emphasis on the simple.  I mean after all, she was throwing this herself and if anyone knows about being pregnant with your second, you know that four months pregnant feels like 8 months so a big extravagant shower was out of the question.  Honestly, some times a more intimate and simple gathering is just the perfect setting.

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The white furnishings were accented with elegant pops of hot pink and orange creating a fresh almost spa-like setting.  Each table was accented with pictures from her maternity shoot photographed by yours truly; a personal touch that gives guests something to talk about.  A friend was enlisted to make printables for labels and paper decor.

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The best part of the shower, I must say, was the amazing food prepared by the mother-to-be’s father.  Oh, I am drooling as I am trying to find the words that will most accurately describe the decadent meal.  I feel I must do it justice.  The main food was an assortment of sliders, the meat of which was cleverly shaped like meatballs giving you the most bang for buck….I mean bite.  An assortment of toppings was set up buffet style and included a homemade blackberry bbq sauce and peach mustard…I will pause a moment for you to wipe your saliva.  There were three types of meat from which to choose, chicken feta, turkey, and beef.  My aunt also made her famous potato salad and there was fruit skewers for a little balance.  I have to apologize quickly since there will be no details for the recipes as these are family secrets, but maybe some day I will be able to share.  I can go on and on about the food and strawberry lemonade and the delish cupcakes made by , but let’s just say eating encompassed most of the event.  Several games and well wishes later, the perfect shower came to an end with a cute jar of homemade BBQ sauce in tow.  Just as I said, simple and sweet.

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Celebrating Baby #2…It’s Another Boy!!!

It’s funny how you think as long as you don’t type it up, text it, or leave a voice mail, you are safe.  Well apparently you have to watch out for friends with long memories, because when I told my friend “G” I was having a shower for my second pregnancy, she thought’d best to remind me that I said I wouldn’t have another shower if I was having another boy.  I guess one day I imagined myself going back over early pictures with my children and having to explain to #2 why I didn’t have a shower when I was pregnant with him.  Turns out, several friends vehemently agreed with me some to the point of fussing at me that every pregnancy/child is to be celebrated.  Besides he has plenty of time to be reminded he is second when he realizes he is living off hand-me-downs.  Well long story short I decided to have what is called a Baby Sprinkle.  I guess it is supposed to be a lighter version of a Baby “Shower”.

Immediately I decided I would throw it myself.   I mean, I was not going to ask my mom or my bestfriend to spend their hard earned cash to throw me another shower.  Also, selfishly, I really wanted to throw a party as it is my new obsession.  Speaking of obsessions, rustic is the new “black” for me.  I want everything rustic, including this party.  After days of my creative process,visualizing, sketching, internet searching, I decided a rustic country picnic would be best.  I did have to remind myself this was a baby shower…I mean baby sprinkle so I had to tie in the baby boy to be.  I then decided to make anything that was not wood, blue and now bows.  Then all the food had to be picnic style and true to my over ambitious nature, I had to make everything myself.

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The table linen was actually fabric I got from Downtown L.A.  I paid $44 and got enough material for 6 table cloths and let me tell you, the fabric is awesome.  For favors, true to my frugal nature, I made assorted cookies (Cranberry White Chocolate, Blueberry Oatmeal, Molasses and My Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies) sealed with raffia.  The flowers are  from The Flower District in downtown L.A. and the vintage looking watering cans came from Michael’s when they were 60% off.

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I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of space created in my small backyard once I had my husband move out the grill, the table set, and trash cans.  It was almost like the space doubled instantaneously.

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I also had my wonderful husband (you have to say these things when your husband has to suffer as a result of your party decorating obsession) remove the swings from the swing set so I can use it for hanging onesies (and the hand-me-downs begin) via a clothesline.  The table from our outdoor set was relocated to underneath the poles for the gift table.

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One of my favorite pieces is this burlap and bandana garland.  I printed out a triangle on the printer, used my paper cutter to cut the angles (I have the worse cutting skills), then used the paper triangle as a template for the pieces.  I got like 3 or 4 yards or burlap downtown for $5.  I had enough to make long garlands, the sign you see below, a runner for the gift table and still had some left over.

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Once I decided the theme, the food concept came naturally…picnic food.  I made four different types of sandwiches (Caprese, Portobello Mushroom, Rosemary Chicken with jarred peppers, and Pressed Picnic Sandwhiches).  For the sides, I made Potato Salad, and Mac & Cheese.

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Caprese Sandwich - Mix Olive Oil with salt, pepper, and dried basil and brush on loaf.  Layer FRESH mozzarella and tomatoes and top with fresh basil

Caprese Sandwich – Mix Olive Oil with salt, pepper, and dried basil and brush on loaf. Layer FRESH mozzarella and tomatoes and top with fresh basil

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I totally stole this idea from a country wedding post I viewed online.  Food served in brown to-go containers.  I love this idea and with my family and their incessant need to take food home (o.k. I do it too at family functions), it was perfect.

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Now, no country picnic would be complete without Sweet Iced Tea (not shown here) and Lemonade.  Yet, if anyone knows me, they know I don’t ever take the easy route.  I made Vanilla Infused Lemonade and I will tell you this right now, there is nothing like it.  Of course, I am too frugal to buy a $10 vanilla bean and I ran out of my vanilla bean paste so I just used vanilla extract.  Everyone loved it, but coming from someone who has had it made with vanilla paste, I recommend you go for bean or paste if you can.  It is awesome!  I ran out of time but I had planned on also making Thyme Lemonade which is so refreshing it will immediately transport you to the spa so I couldn’t deprive anyone of the recipe.  The best part of the lemonade, was it was all free.  Thanks to my lovely Auntie D providing me with lemons from her tree, I saved money and can almost call it organic lemonade.

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This is a novelty that will never bore me.  Striped paper straws in mason jars.  I mean can you imagine drinking sweet tea out of anything else when you’re in the country?

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You say country picnic, I say sweet tarts.  I made four different types of tarts (Strawberry, Bluberry Buttermilk, and Honey Maple Pecan) and Caramel Apple Empanadas and my only piece of advice before you attempt these treats is, know the weather.  Do not, I mean absolutely DO NOT make these during warm weather for an outdoor event.  We had to move everything back to the fridge when the weather warmed up.  I didn’t even bring them out until it was time to eat.

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If you are drooling, it is not in vain.  These things are mouth watering and are great leftovers.

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This was probably my favorite event.  Everything I envisioned actually became a reality which is something I cannot say for all of my events as it’s my mind that is creative and not my hands.  Of course, it would not have happened without my wonderful mother, mother-in law, and great friend Sara.  I can’t wait to show the little guy how he was celebrated in style.

 

Pretty In Pink

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It’s a girl and it’s pink!  Finally someone I know is having a baby girl and embracing pink!  The only difference with this shower was the fact that the expectant guest of honor was also the hostess.  My friend Rachel, like me, has to do it all.  She was doing the decorating, the cooking, that baking, you name it.  Well I just didn’t think I’d be a good friend if I didn’t offer some help and with an over achieving personality like hers, that is all I was going to be doing.  It was funny because a lot of the exchanges were Rachel telling me the one thousand things she wanted to do and me saying “that’s too much”.  Occasionally my suggestions penetrated that strong armor, but most of the time I just gave support.  The shower turned out wonderful and the dessert table was a cavity waiting to happen.

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Each table dawned a hanging centerpiece containing my favorite obsession, hydrangeas.  I was fortunate enough to find a beautiful shade of pink that I snagged at the flower district in downtown Los Angeles for only $6.00 a bunch.  The table top consisted of two  glass vases holding a few simple dark pink daisies allowing the diaper cake (2nd) centerpiece created by the expectant mommy to shine.  Tissue paper pom poms, circle paper garland, and cute little piggy accents rounded out the decor.

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For the dessert table, the guest of honor/hostess prepared cake pops, piggy shaped cookies, and yummy white chocolate dipped pretzel sticks.  I added my favorite cheesecakes (look for recipe in an upcoming post) and a moist yellow cake topped with an Italian buttercream frosting.  I attempted a Bavarian Cream filling, but the texture came out like a custard.  It still was a hit.

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The expectant mother or Miss Overachiever as I have come to think of her, made enchiladas and an amazing corn bean dip that was both gorgeous and delicious.  It was a fun shower with lots of girl talk and overindulging, a perfect way to celebrate a new arrival.

A Diva’s Shower

        

“I don’t want a regular baby shower”…”the baby isn’t even here yet” were the words out of my cousin’s mouth when discussing ideas for her baby shower.  Of course these words did anything but surprise me.  I mean, the Diva herself, wanting a shower celebrating her rather than the baby was pretty much what one could expect from the self-proclaimed celebrity.  As much as I wanted to tease her, it was a major challenge and gave me great inspiration to try to come up with a shower that was more sophisticated and celeb style rather than the typical pastel-covered, toilette paper, cotton ball, all about the baby baby showers we all know and love.  Her color choices were black and white with a touch of pink.  I truly do not know what it is with these people and their hatred of pink.  Anyway, I had her chose a pattern (we ended up with damask) as I feel it should be automatic to pick a pattern if your colors are black and white.  I mean, it’s such a dynamic pairing,  you want to have a focus or else you will find yourselves with polka dots and stripes.  Ultimately this  ended up being one of my favorite events.  My cousin’s style brought out a whole new level of creativity.  Not to mention the fact that the budget was tight for this type of shower so I even had to make up original games and revamp (or recheap) oldies, but it’s so fun to see the cheapest way  to achieve a chic look.

These are my favorite and most time consuming pieces.  They are called pomanders and I got it from one of my favorite websites, http://www.hwtm.com, but instead of using crepe paper sheets which I could not find, I used paper streamer from the 99 Cents Only Store and bought the Styrofoam balls from Michael’s with my 50% off coupon.

Wait, did i already exclaim something was my fav because this is by and large my favorite addition.  I love the idea  of homemade paper mobiles so much, I plan to put it in the nursery for my second (whenever that happens).  You can Google search paper mobiles for baby nursery and find some of the most jaw dropping creations.  And to think, I thought this was an original idea.  Regardless, I love it!

The Dessert Bar which included a Candy Bar (The other aspect of the theme was cocktail party…you get the point) was so delicious according to guests.  Imagine my devastation when I had to wait until the end of the shower to scrape over the leftovers.

As a gift to the guest of honor, I took pictures of her guests giving words of advice and made a framed collage.  The “chalk board” was the same black foam board (from Wal-mart for only $1.99) that was used for Baby Shower Pictionary.  I used chalk I had leftover from another shower drawing.  You can imagine that after some time it got a little messy.  A little tip though, it actually erases with a wet paper towel.  This is my go to answer for all the fancy people that can afford an actual chalk board and keep throwing it in my face.  Sidebar:  I really love the chalkboards.

A Gift From The Heart

A Registry is a suggestion, a fallback if you run out of time, help for those who not experienced, and an easy out for those who just don’t feel like looking.  Now, I have used the Registry a time or two.  If i am in a hurry and/or ran out of time, it is my go-to place to shop.  Fortunately for me, when my good friend Gisela was having her baby shower, I had the time.  I always prefer to be able to personalize a gift.  And come on, it’s no secret that registry items are usually expensive.  And if you are fortunate enough to have a registry with cheap options…well you can’t hide how much you spent.  It is always my mission in life to get the best for cheap.   For this gift, I wanted to do a basket…oh who am I kidding, I always want to do a basket.  The first thing is I want the basket to be able to be reused so I get one that is neutral or matches a known color scheme.  Since this was for a baby shower and i am the mother of a two year old, I knew exactly what I wanted to put inside.  I made a list and went to seek out the best prices.  This is one of the bonuses of doing a “Create your Own” gift basket.  This may have been pretty bold, but I knew I would take almost everything out of the packaging to make my basket pretty and make my own wrapping.  This totally worked out when I went to Ross and  someone has ripped part of the Gerber onesie package including the price.  I was charged $2.99.  Guess what I went to…..oops, I won’t say the name, but it was next door and that same exact package with the same 4 onesies was  $9.99.  This is probably #1 on the list of why I do not purchase directly from Registry’s.

Gisela is expecting a boy so what started off as blue turned into a blue and brown color scheme.  I had brown ribbon left over from another event so i used that to wrap like products together.  I then used my cutting machine to cut labels that I can put around each wrapped item so there is no confusion for their us.  Also it is just fun to say cute things about the item.  My color printer couldn’t get hooked up in time so after a brief temper tantrum I decided to use markers to add some color.  And, of course, no basket would be complete without ribbons.  When I went to look for cards, I wanted to get one of those fancy cute ones, but they want like six bucks!  You’ll never guess what i did, I used left over card stock and made a homemade card where I was able to express myself personally.

The best part was she loved it and it meant just as much to her as it did to me making it.  Not only did I save money, but I was able to make something special for a dear friend!

Eeyore-Themed Baby Shower with a Purple Twist

When my best friend of over 20 years told me she was pregnant and wanted me to do her baby shower, I lost it.  I was so overwhelmed with excitement and not to mention I had taken up her suggestion to start blogging about decorating just before she asked.  Once we found out it was a girl, I asked what was her designated color scheme.  Now, I already knew here favorite color was purple, but apparently I missed that is was also blue.  Oh and it doesn’t stop there, she doesn’t like pink.  And of course, the theme had to be based on her favorite Winnie the Pooh character, Eeyore.  Truthfully, themes suggested by the guest of honor always make it easier.  I think that even if I am not given a theme request, I make one up.  It seems to help one stay consistent and not have too many random pieces and ideas exploding all over the decorating space.  Another piece of the process is that I let her tell me the theme and the colors and after that, she was banned.  People have to remember showers (Wedding, Bridal, Baby, etc.) are not weddings , if you are lucky you will get to make a suggestion, but someone is throwing it for you so you just sit back and be prepared to be surprised.  With that said, I had to be kicked out of my baby shower planning.

For certain, I was using the Eeyore theme, but I refused to eliminate pink and for those familiar with Eeyore you know he has a pink bow on his tail.  At this point in the process I was doing my sneaky villain laugh since I found a way to sneak in pink.  Initially the only blue I incorporated was a few balloons and the Eeyore dolls which I found for a good deal online.  Turns out that Disney, who actually had the best quality of dolls and the best price, only offered Eeyore in his original gray color.  Apparently blue Eeyore, my bf’s favorite, was a seasonal version that became popular.  The blue hydrangeas actually were not done on purpose, but worked out.  The floral company I used could not come up with the origianl 40 stems of purple I offered.  Of course I did not find that out utnil I wen to pick up my order.  Thank goodness it worked out anyway and turned out better than having all purple.  After that, I decided to focus on varying shades of purple as the  color scheme.  In the process I learned new colors like periwinkle and that Lilac is a lighter Lavender like color.


I came up with the centerpiece first and foremost.  I love hydrangeas with their fullness and rich coloring and wanted to incorporate something that made it like a baby shower.  Somehow my interpretation turned out to be a hydrangea centerpiece with a twirl pop in the center.  This centerpiece I made on a great budget with the help of my favorite party planning mecca, downtown Los Angeles.  Thank goodness for my resident town, because I was quoted $4-$6 per stem in Las Vegas (site of the shower) and paid $1.50 per stem during Valentine’s weekend in the wonderful flower district.  You better believe it was worth it to transport the flowers the 200+ miles to Vegas for that kind of savings.  The florist provided me with buckets for free.  Ask and you shall receive.

The event turned out great and the final decoration product turned out great.  I always say you never know how the final product will look, after all, it starts off a vision in my head.

Thanks to http://www.browneyedbaker.com I was able to turn a $4 a pop cookie into a $0.30 cookie


Budget:  $600

Spent: $700

Guest Count:  50