Friday, October 28, 2011

"She's About to Pop!" Baby Shower

October marked the second baby shower I've thrown this fall. This time, instead of my BFF, I put on a shower for another friend and family member. My husband's little brother will be expecting his first child any day now, and we wanted to give that little baby's mama a shower she would not forget!

So, my sis-in-law and I got to work. Since I had already pulled the "She's About to Pop" theme off pretty well the first go-round, I thought why not give it another spin? Because I'm so trendy and green and way big into upcycling, repurposing, and reusing (that's all code for "thrifty," which is really code for "cheap," haha) I saved the decorations from the previous party. I chose bright, punchy colors that would serve any type of party, as long as it was fun. Mommy-to-be is young, and I think the vibrant colors were a compliment to her youth.

I loved these paper garlands that I found after a late night of pinterest trolling. Simply made by running paper shapes through a sewing machine, they have an ethereal effect the way they just seemed to float in the air. Light, colorful, and feminine.

This time I designed all new invitations, labels and such. I wanted to incorporate brown into the scheme, so I used it as the base for the set I designed on Publisher. I also added the bunting design into the party details. I love how festive a bunting looks, and planned to add one to the table for height. Check out my inspiration photo from my pinterest.

The design set was printed on 4x6 paper. I designed ALL of the cards and invites to fit on 4x6 paper because all I had to do was load it to Walgreen's photo site, order as a photo(I used a coupon code for half price prints), and pick them up at my local store (no shipping fee, ready in an hour, and I used a $5 register reward to pay toward the cost). Printing everything as a photo gave the invites a nice glossy finish and they looked professionally done. The invitations were printed on the 4x6 paper, glued to cardstock, and sent out like a postcard. I saved around .15 cents each on postage which shaved about seven dollars off the postage cost. All of the food labels were designed to be 3x4 (two to a sheet, 2x6 to go around the bottled water) and all of the round labels were printed as photos too. I just punched them out with my scalloped circle. As long as I saved the Publisher images as high quality jpegs, they came out just fine. I had a couple of reprints because I didn't do that the first time, however, the total cost for invitations, thank-you notes, and food and drink labels was fifteen dollars!

The home where we threw the shower had a nice patio entry. We placed a table outside to greet guests and left a few instructions.

A grand prize drawing for filling out your name and address on an envelope.

This way someone gets a prize, and the mommy-to-be has return envelopes ready to go for Thank-You notes!

We also made a memo board as a gift to mom and part of our decoration. Instead of buying new materials, I bought a memo board second-hand, removed the old fabric, stapled new fabric, ribbon, and rosettes over the existing board and batting. It added color and height to the table and created a moment for sentiment. The colors are matched to the baby's nursery, so not only was it a great party prop, but something that can be enjoyed down the line too. I outfitted the board with a few ultrasound pictures, a pregnancy photo and a note encouraging folks to leave a thought or prayer for mom and baby. I used a paper punch to make scalloped circles for writing on. This whole project was less than ten dollars.

Placing the table outside wasn't the greatest idea. The entry area was smaller in the house, so I thought putting it outside would be good for traffic flow. I think several people walked right by without giving notice. It probably would have been better inside the house for people to meander to during the par-tay.

Leading up to the big day, we sent out the invitations, planned the menu, picked up prizes, and gathered materials for games.
Like the last party, with the "Pop" theme on like Donkey-Kong, I duplicated most of the treats and added a few more including:

Tomato Basil Bruschetta
Pear Bleu Cheese Crostini
Chicken POPpyseed Salad.

These were easy to make ahead and they all assembled the same way. Toasted sourdough baguette slices topped with each of these, and they were done!

(horrible pic, I know!)

We found the cutest mini water bottles at Big Lots; a full case was three dollars. Add some fancy labels for a custom look.

And the cake pops....

I. don't. even. want. to. talk. about. the. cake. pops.

Of course, a "She's About to Pop" party requires a cake pop, but MAN!

Talk about a disappointment!

Let me just say, this isn't my first rodeo when it comes to cake pops. I went all out on my daughter's second birthday and made the cute Bakerella Cupcake Cake Pops and they turned out adorable. However, they taste like a big ball of sugar.

Don't get me wrong, kids love 'em, but they do leave something to be desired for the adult palate. I scoured the internet for gourmet cake pop recipes and decided I just didn't want to go through that much trouble. Decorating is already a time-consuming process. So here's what I came up with:

I picked up a Babycakes Cake Pop maker during a trip to Kohls. I love this thing. It's quick, easy, makes perfectly round balls of cake, and best of all, I can go to town with the decorations and still end up with soft yummy cake in the middle that actually tastes good.

My sister-in-law and nieces are the greatest! Two days before the party, my nieces came over to help with the final plans. I've got one niece who gets down and dirty with a glue gun, ergo the clothespins for our first game:

That one's a classic. Don't say "baby" or don't say "cute" are instant winners. I take that game seriously, as I am a self-proclaimed baby-shower-clothespin-collecting-freak.

Back to the cake pops. My other niece had cake pop duty. You will see that we chose three kinds of cake pops. The first was a confetti cake pop, made from funfetti cake (one of my all-time faves) and decorated with POP rocks.

The second recipe used was for Oreo cake pops. This is a no-bake recipe requiring a bag of oreos crushed and mixed with a package of cream cheese. It comes out looking like black play-doh. You roll it out, cut with a cookie cutter, and chill to firm up. I made little flower shapes. These looked and tasted great, anything with cream cheese is heavenly in my book.

The third recipe was chocolate cake in the middle and baby on the outside. It sounds bad when I say it like that, right? I came across these cute little cake pop baby heads and wanted to copy them for the shower. These little babies looked so adorable so we got candy necklaces, cupcake liners, curling ribbon, and an overpriced edible pen to do the detail work.

All the pops turned out fab. Fab that is, until we put them in the freezer for safekeeping. I don't know what we were thinking! I guess for being in a rush to get 150 cake pops finished and for lack of space, I thought the freezer would be a good place to keep them cool and out of the way.

Well, as soon as they started to thaw, the Pop Rocks started popping and the babies started to sweat!

We were left with some sad looking kids and sticky Pop Rocks.

Note to self: Don't EVER, upon ANY circumstances, EVER put the cake pops in the freezer AGAIN!
The condensation was a killer! That edible pen was junk too.

Lets just end the food section on a good note: We had my favorite drinks! Once again, I picked up that delicious soda from World Market, slapped on a few labels, and there you go, instant cute!

Alright, now on to the games. We picked 5 games for the shower, anticipating around thirty guests, dividing the teams into groups of five-six (that way, everyone wins a prize). My mother-in-law is awesome at throwing parties and she is great at fun things like planning games, she threw me my first baby shower, and I have used the same games from my baby shower time and again.

First, to get people talking and break up the room a little bit:

Everyone draws a song title out of a bucket (lullabyes for a baby shower) and has to hum it aloud to find their teammates. This mixes up the crowd and kind of forces people to talk to people they otherwise might ignore.

Once the teams were established, we broke right into the play-doh baby game.

Each team gets 2 cans of play-doh and has three minutes to make a baby.

My niece Brooke's team killed it at this game! They made their baby complete with a carriage and blanket!

On to round two! This is a word game. You put a phrase at the top of the posterboard and each team must come up with as many words as they can from the letters in 5 minutes.

We chose "Sophia Marie" as the title since that will be our adorable little niece's name.

Game 3 was the BEST!

I assigned Brooke to come up with two different games that we had never played before. She scoured the internet and came up with this gem.

It's called "Tinkle in the Pot."

Reminiscent of the constant need to empty your bladder during pregnancy, each player must put a balloon under their belly while holding a quarter (there is NO WAY I could have done it with a quarter, so we went with a ping-pong ball) between their knees. The player must waddle down the line and drop their coin into a pot (again, we used a ping-pong ball dropped into a canning jar and it worked just fine).

This game was hilarious! Definitely going on the list of future baby shower games.

On a side note: I don't think I've ever seen a cuter pregnant girl in my life!

Game four: We came back inside for a round of price is right. I covered six baby items and revealed them one by one, just like the show, and each team had to guess the price. Frankly, this game kinda sucked. Just wasn't as fun as I hoped it would be.


And Game #5:

Ending it with a bang! The old toilet paper diaper game, another winner! These types of games are fun and silly and take a group effort.

Again, have you ever seen a cuter pregnant girl?

Group picture!

And of course, we made them strut:

The first party I threw with the "She's About to Pop" theme can be seen here!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

I'm Bringing It Back!

Remember these guys? The stuffed animal hammocks of our youth? I loved mine and I think every kid's bedroom in America had one too.

So where did they go? Is it just me, or is this just one of the few brilliant things that came out of the eighties like Popples?

I'm totally waiting for Popples to make their comeback. Forget my kids, I want one in every color!

Well, I've been cleaning my kids' room.

Which made me crabby.

And got me thinking, "I need one of those stuffed animal net things that I had when I was a kid!"

So I went on a mission to find one, and guess what? Nowhere to be found (except ebay, which I wasn't willing to pay for a "vintage" stuffed animal net. The eighties are vintage now? Really?

So, I got to thinkin' and decided I could make my own. It took about one hour and the total cost was...drumroll please...


So here's what I did. I got in my car and drove to DollarTree and I bought one of these:

Then I took it home, laid it out on the floor, and cut the bag on the side and bottom seams so I had one large rectangle.

Get the baby off of it.

Then, fold it back in half and make a diagonal line from the top right corner to the bottom left. Fold is on the lefthand side.

Now that I'm thinking about it, you probably don't have to cut the bag open at all. Just make this diagonal cut. I set the drawstring cord aside for another project.

Since this fabric is mesh, stretchy, and full of holes, I made a double-fold around all three edges about a half inch wide, pinned them in place, and ran a zig-zag stitch over the top on my sewing machine.

This gave a nice clean edge and reinforced where I would be binding over the mesh.

For the binding, I used several yards of 1" grosgrain ribbon that I had hanging around. The ribbon is made of strong nylon and can support the weight of all the junk I planned on throwing in it. I started on one side, folded the ribbon around the edge of the mesh (just like when binding a baby blanket), and sewed with a wide zig-zag stitch.

I made my way around the triangle. When I got to the corners I did this:

I pulled out a couple of inches of ribbon and formed a loop. Repinned the ribbon back to the edge, then pivoted my zig-zag stitch around the corner and continued on my merry way. The result was a loop on each corner that I would use to fasten to the wall. When you get back around, overlap the ribbon end, folding under the raw edge.

I happened to have little bunting hanging in my kids' room from an earlier project. It was just the right length, so I stitched it over the long side to add a little flair.

This is the minimum amount of flair- I want to encourage you to express yourself by adding as much or as little flair as you would like.

It's up to you (name that movie).

I attached it to the corner of the walls with finish nails. I added wainscoting trim to my girls' bedroom last year and was able to pound a few finish nails right into the wood ledges. If you only have drywall to hang your hammock, I would use some small screw-in hooks with a wall anchor to keep it in there, or why not go for a stud? Then you can really load up on carnival prizes!

I'm happy to report that my kids have not used it as a hammock or tried hanging from it. They love that they get to keep their special stuffed animals and I love that I don't have to pick them up off of the floor anymore.

Linked up and partying over here:

Home Stories A2Z

Bloggy Bloggington

Well it's been a while. Over a month, maybe closer to two. I've been super busy wrapping up my summer and crash-landing into fall. I've gotten a few more projects finished, a baby shower under my belt, and a little bit of schoolwork too.

I've been taking pictures and planning posts, but not so much done in the blogging department. All those pictures means all that editing; which makes me realize that I want a new camera.

My little guy just sucks in the portraiture department. It does nothing for me.

Someday down the line, but for now, I will do with poor lighting and bad zoom. Bare with me.

Time to go through all of those pictures and turn them into posts. Sounds a little like work, but I am up for the challenge.

Goodbye All!