Need to feed a crowd on Labor Day? Head over to Skip to My Lou and check out her shrimp boil - including a printable shopping list and instructions! Enjoy!
Friday, August 29, 2008
Thursday, August 28, 2008
As we all prepare to spark up the grill for Labor Day weekend here in America, it occurred to me that unlike Memorial Day when everyone is itching to indulge in the grilled hot dogs and hamburgers that they have been deprived all winter, by Labor Day everyone has really had their fill. But it does seem a bit of a missed opportunity not to cookout this weekend given that these warm clear days of summer are numbered. Then I remembered this fantastic pizza that I have made a few times when it was too warm to use the oven but we were tired of the same old same old on the grill. The recipe is from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food magazine, which means that you aren't tempted to run screaming after you read it and you don't need to travel to remote locations in Asia for the ingredients. Yes, I know it says Martha Stewart, but Everyday Food is different. I promise. So celebrate Labor Day the way it was meant to be celebrated: with as little work as possible. Whip up a couple of these pizzas and relax. Yes I know it says Martha Stewart, but trust me!
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
To say that I love these sleep angels is the understatement of all understatements. Just the thought of these beautiful little bits of happiness makes me absolutely giddy! Seriously, I'm grinning from ear to ear right now. So, what are sleep angels? They are small linen dolls that are hand embroidered with the sweetest and most delicate detail and are then filled with polyfill and dried lavender flowers grown in none other than Provence. Each angel is lovingly made by Apol, a lovely and gracious French woman who has a gift for adding that special touch that turns everything she makes into the most special thing that you will ever own.
My two oldest children adore their sleep angels and have them by their side each night. And in the morning when I straighten their beds, the scent of lavender is amazing! Apol's beautiful work has even inspired me to grow my own lavender. I'm not sure what I'll do with it other than watch it grow, but it makes me happy just knowing it's there.
My dream - pun totally intended - is to have a sleepover birthday party for one of my children and present each guest with a sleep angel just before they all quietly drift off to sleep exactly as scheduled at 9 pm. Hey, I said it was a dream right? But what an unbelievable party favor! Truly a one of a kind gift. Can't you just picture them peeking out of Christmas stockings everywhere?
You can purchase sleep angels and all kinds of beautiful things handmade by Apol at her Etsy shop Lapomme. But if you're on my gift list, don't browse too much. I've done some shopping recently and I don't want you to find your surprise!
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Monday, August 25, 2008
A little nice goes a long way. That is the philosophy of Melissa who has started a blog called Operation Nice. She has even designed these amazing postcards and little notecards available for download on her website so that we can all spread the nice. If you need a little pick me up or have a story to share, it is definitely worth the trip over to Operation Nice. It will restore your faith in humankind and have you itching to change the world with one bit of Nice at a time.
Friday, August 22, 2008
I just loooooove party banners, don't you? They are the epitome of festive and fun. I also love how the British call them buntings. I don't know why, it just makes me happy. (It is the British that use that term, isn't it? Or am I making that up?) Anyway, here are two fun and very different banner tutorials that are perfect to make on your own or with your littles. One from mayamade, as pictured above.
The other from the small object. Happy Bunting!
Thursday, August 21, 2008
In keeping with the party theme of this blog, I would like to start a series of posts, maybe weekly?, which will focus on things that I find in my travels that would make great gifts and/or party favors. Let's face it, everyone knows what it's like to be scrambling for the perfect gift at the last minute and it is not fun. Usually, I end up settling for something sub par simply because I ran out of time. Well, I have gotten smart (at least in this regard) and now pick up things as I see them, en masse.
First in the great gift series is the Eric Carle Sketch and Tell Story Books and these are perfect for so many reasons. First, both boys and girls will love them. Second, they are appropriate for a large range of ages. The age on them says 6+, but from my experience, I think they would be appropriate for children ages 5-12. These wonderful books inspire children to write and illustrate their own stories. Here is a shot of the inside of the larger, wire bound book:
With plenty of pages and plenty of room to draw and write, your child's imagination can run wild and then you have a beautiful keepsake of your child's work. Can you tell that I just love these?
The best part is that they come in various sizes and the price is right! You can find the large and small softcover versions here for $4.79 and $1.59, respectively. But for gift giving, there are also hard cover versions of the larger size for only $9.99. I found them at A.C. Moore, but I think you can find them at most art supply stores. So the larger books are perfect for gift-giving and the smaller make fantastic party favors! And at only $1.59 each, you are giving a lovely little gift that a) looks like you spent much more than the $1.59 price tag and b) will not be discarded moments after your party ends. I love these books!
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Well here they are, the piece de resistance: the party favors. And what are they? Scooby snacks of course! Aren't they cute? Little dog bone shaped graham crackers packaged up all fancy for the picnic. And let me tell you, these are sooooo good. If you're not careful, a box of these can be gone before you realize. Not that I know that from experience or had to go out and buy another box for the party or anything. Nope, not me.
OK. I know you know me better than that. The Scooby Snacks were not the only party favor at the doggie picnic. Although, I'm telling you, they are delicious! All of the party-goers also received a photo album lined in the same oilcloth that was rampant throughout the party. In the inside cover of the album I slipped in a card with a thank you for coming to Peanut's second birthday and the date. Since this was a family party, I knew that everyone would have pictures from all of our great times this summer and this photo album was a great way for everyone to store their photos and remember Summer 2008. All of the women and girls received the album as pictured and the adult men (the Uncles that are not attached to an Auntie) received an album lined in faux bois oil cloth with the same Photographs label. I wish I had taken a picture of those, they were really cool!
I love favors that are useful and easily customized to coordinate with any party theme and these certainly fit the bill. The beauty of the photo albums is that they can be customized even further to include each guest's name, captioned with anything you want - the sky's the limit! I am currently working with a bride who is using the albums as a combination favor/escort card at her wedding. The photo album itself will coordinate with her wedding colors and style and will then be fitted with a band of paper with each guest's name and table number. I'm really excited to get working on these, they're going to be wonderful!
Oh, and one last note. The boys of the party, while I'm sure they would have looooved a fancy photo album, were given something a little different in their doggie bags. Along with their scooby snacks, they received a small rubber baseball quite similar to a ball that would be used for playing fetch. Yes, I know how to take a theme to the absolute limit, don't I? The absolute limit. So now that the doggie party has been done, I promise you will never hear the words doggie picnic cross these lips again. Unless of course, Peanut insists that it's the only way to go next year!
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Monday, August 18, 2008
I am thrilled to report that the Doggie Picnic was a great success and now that it's over, Peanut is officially two and I officially have my life back (well, as much as it is my own here in this last week of summer vacation!). Since we held the party at my in-law's pool, I had a keen eye on the weather all week and we did have a little scare that thunderstorms would hit just as the party was starting, but in the end the weather was glorious!
The tone for the picnic was set with lots of wonderful oilcloth (forever blue and red gingham) used on the tables and the decor, and we of course needed to add some doggies as it was Peanut's love of dogs that inspired this whole quirky doggie picnic in the first place! So, the oilcloth was for me, the doggies were for her, and everyone was happy. The rest of the decor was very simple, with flowers from the garden snipped and arranged in oilcloth trimmed tomato cans just minutes before the party began. Oh, and did I mention that there were doggies?
One of my most favorite details for all kinds of parties, but especially those outdoors, are custom water bottles to match the party theme. For children's parties, I often customize each label with the child's name so there is no confusion when the children lose track of their water. But since this was a family party, the labels were all the same and I did not have to "worry about unsightly labels that do not match the theme" to quote party guy as he teases me about my compulsion, err . . . attention to detail. Truth be told, I'm not the only one with such compulsions, as these water bottles with their sleek shape and customized labels have quickly become one of my most popular party accessories.
Since this picnic was by a pool, we had to include some pool games, the highlight of which were the intense and fiercely competitive doggie paddle races. Other events included the cat chase and some odd variation of fetch while swimming. Trust me, this last one wasn't pretty.
The beauty of having a picnic is that it calls for very simple food. We served an array of sandwiches and salads that were easy to prepare and very low stress. For dessert, we served cupcakes, Pumpkin's famous rice krispie treats and delicious chocolate covered strawberries. Simple and delicious. And we made a point to have lots of leftovers so that we could send everyone home with...
Doggie Bags, of course!
Want to know what else went home in these doggie bags? I'll be posting more on that tomorrow and you know I love a good party favor, so you won't want to miss it!
Friday, August 15, 2008
In a pinch and don't have time to sew? Ummm....yes! Well, a yard and a half of oilcloth is the perfect length for a banquet table tablecloth. You don't even need to finish the edges - it hangs beautifully! Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.
Photo courtesy of modernjune. She does have time to sew! Check out her shop for perfectly finished pieces.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
So as I mentioned, this week is all about Peanut. As we feverishly prep for the big bash on Saturday, I thought I'd pop in with some photos of the little girl who has brought immeasurable joy to our family. As Pumpkin said last year at just about this time: "She's the best thing to ever happen to us!"
And as you oooh and ahhh over the awesome shots of my little peanut, be sure to check out the website and blog of gifted photographer Amy Riley who perfectly captured the personality of my sweet and feisty baby girl. Amy is also one of Cape Cod's premiere wedding photographers!
P.S. The bottom row of the collage is Maeve's reaction to Amy's dog entering the studio. That's what Amy's all about; priceless moments captured beautifully. And Peanut...well, she's all about dogs.
Monday, August 11, 2008
I suppose it's appropriate that I am consumed by the planning of my own daughter's birthday party as I start this blog - and I am. In a big, big way. So this week will be all about my youngest little girl, Peanut. (I know, I know. My other children, Pumpkin and Petunia, are represented so nicely in the name of my business, but Peanut was not yet a twinkle. Not to worry, I'll find a way to include her.)
Peanut is going to be two this Saturday and she is a little firecracker, to say the least. She has been speaking in full sentences and paragraphs since about 14 mos. and has even perfected a British accent (don't ask!). But the most important thing to know about Peanut in relation to her birthday party is that she loves dogs. So when thinking about a theme for her birthday party, having done just about every single theme you can think of, I was thrilled that her love of dogs fell very nicely into a theme that I have never done before. Something I could create from scratch! Because I'll do the Elmo birthday party if that is what my child really loves, but when I can do something different and still have it be all about the birthday girl (or boy), that is party planning nirvana.
So this week will be dedicated to executing plans for Peanut's Doggie Picnic birthday party on Saturday. I have a funny story about the printing of her invitation (pictured above, name and location changed to protect the innocent), but I'll save that for later in the week when I'll surely need a good laugh as I frantically try to pull this together all while entertaining three kids at the tail end of summer vacation. Wish me luck!
Friday, August 8, 2008
We have a new member of the family here at party central that I thought you may like to meet. Never mind that I haven't introduced my children yet, first things first please! (Besides, my vast readership of 4 people already knows all about the kids so I need new material to keep things fresh).
So without further ado, meet Jacoby the hermit crab.
How did we come to own a hermit crab you might ask? Well, like most stories here, it's a long one. The Reader's Digest version is that Pumpkin was a nine year old boy without a pet and I am a 30-something mommy with pet allergies. Pumpkin spent a weekend on the Cape with his Uncle, exploring the beach, befriending hermit crabs. . . the next thing you know we're at the pet store rescuing Jacoby from the life of an animal who was wholesaled to a major pet store chain. What can I say, Jacoby's one lucky little crab.
Now you may be wondering about the name Jacoby. Unless of course you're from Boston or anywhere else in Red Sox nation, in which case you can skip this paragraph (but don't skip the next one, there's a prize at the end). Jacoby is the namesake of none other than Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox outfielder with some major wheels. I would just say he's fast, but Pumpkin says he has wheels and since it's his pet I'm exploiting, errr featuring, the least I could do was use his terminology. But more important than having wheels, Jacoby is a rookie. And since Jacoby the hermit crab is the rookie of this family, well you get where I'm taking you, right? So let's give a big Pumpkin Petunia welcome to Jacoby. "Hi Jacoby!"
Now for the prize. Petunia, never one to be left out, took the trip to the pet store with us and you know she wasn't leaving empty handed. So Petunia carefully chose a lovely little beta fish and with much ceremony named him Joe. Do you know why she named him Joe? Let me give you some stats on Petunia - it may help. Petunia is my 7 year old daughter. That's right, that's the hint. Think about it. You'll get it.
The first person to comment and correctly tell me why our new beta fish is named Joe wins a prize to be named later (it'll be cute, I promise).
Postscript: Jacoby is walking on my cutting board. My floors are not that scratched up. I felt the need to clarify.
Thursday, August 7, 2008
These are so pretty I just had to show you. There is a wonderful woman named Heidi on Martha's Vineyard who owns two shops and she has absolutely impeccable taste. How do I know this? Because she carries my wish necklaces! No, not really. Well, she does carry my wish necklaces, but that's not how I know she has great taste. Heidi told me that her customers are really into wampum (quahog shells buffed into a shiny bead) and wondered if I could make Wampum Wish Necklaces. Well, here they are! Aren't they great?
The wampum beads that I use are authentic wampum made by Native Americans right here in Southeastern Massachusetts and they do fantastic work. The variations in color on the beads are spectacular. The Wampum Wish Necklaces can currently only be found at Heidi's shops (I'll ask Heidi for the two locations and update later) and I made a few extra to have on hand because I loved them so much. So, if you just have to have a Wampum Wish Necklace and are not planning a trip to the Vineyard, just let me know and I'll hook you up!
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
I am in desperate need of a new table and chairs for my kitchen. Desperate need. Despite the fact that party guy has made us countless craft and art tables over the years, we always seem to end up working smack dab in the middle of the house at the kitchen table. Sadly, our overzealous craft projects have finally taken their toll. The table (which has been refinished three times) is speckled with paint and glue and glitter and who knows what else. As for the chairs, they have been knocked over so many times that they are falling apart, although the leftover paint and glue on them seems to be holding up quite nicely.
Which brings me to the point of this post: new chairs. In a stroke of brilliance I realized that if we were to buy new wooden chairs they would likely fall apart again. Then I remembered seeing a story on the aluminum chairs used on ships - Navy Chairs! But at $400 a pop, it ain't happening.
Sooo, I decided to look for a copycat, and who corners the market on copycats of great design?
Target, of course!
Here are the copycats in all their stolen glory at $259 for two. And they're 15% off to boot. Add my AAA target.com discount and I'll have 6 chairs for less than the price of two. But will they hold up to my gang of crafters? That is the question.
So what do you think? Do I go for the bargain or find something else?
Oh, and I still need a table...