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It's Day 5 of Oh Baby! all about my sister's Japanese themed baby shower.  And today is all about the food!  If you need to catch up on the previous posts, just scoot over to the home page and you can read all 5 posts.

I have catered many, many baby showers, birthday parties, Girl's Nights, just about any gathering of people.  Not because I love to cater, in fact, I don't.  But I do love to cook and everyone was expecting me to do all the cooking for this event but I said, "No, no, no!"  I wanted to be able to sit down and enjoy all the hard work we put into this big day, not slave away in the kitchen and miss all the fun.

So we chose one of our favorite local  eateries to host the event, The City Cafe' in Yuba City, Ca.

I cannot say enough about how much work The City Cafe', Stephanie and Chef Jeff specifically, put into our event.  From the very get-go they were excited to host the event and worked with us on every little detail.  They allowed us to come early to hang our 5,000 lanterns (it felt like 5,000!), they even let us borrow their ladder. Even though their normal fare is American Bistro style food, Chef Jeff developed a menu of all Japanese inspired items, some plated, some buffet.  Anything we asked they were willing to make it happen for us.  Thank you City Cafe', you all were awesome!

So going back to the food, we started out with edamame waiting on the tables for the guests.  They were held in the cutest little bamboo boats I picked up at one of my favorite "packaging" sources, Garnish.  Someday I will write a little post on all the goodies you can pick up on their site.

Lest you think all my parties go off without a hitch, there were little hiccups along the way.  One of them being that our photographer was MIA and I didn't really get many pictures of the food :(  But I'll show you a few things:

Here is a pic of myself and Bree of Wedding Tulle , one of my best buds.  The salad you see on my plate was one of Chef Jeff's original creations.  It was an Asian Pear Slaw Salad and people are still asking me what he did to those pears!  I believe they were marinated in some sort of vinaigrette and they were yummy!

I don't have any pics of the rest of the entree's but Chef Jeff also prepared a Miso Salmon, Yakisoba Noodles with Vegetables (they were my favorite, I think he should put them on the menu permanently!) and Teriyaki Pork Tenderloin.  It was all so thoughtfully prepared and really delicious.

I told you earlier that I was not interested in having one of those boring sheet cakes from the grocery store with that frosting that tastes more like silicone than real food.  That would not do.  Besides, that's not very Japanese.  So we had 2 desserts that were chosen as much for their shape as their tastiness:

Mochi Ice Cream Balls!  My sister-in-law Chris and I were so excited to have these, it's about all we talked about for 2 months.  Jill picked them up at Oto's Marketplace (Asian Market) in Sacramento and they were THE BEST mochi I have every eaten.  There were about 7 or 8 flavors.  I ate several.  I would have eaten more.  I need to take a trip to Oto's and get some more.

The other dessert is something so darling and so delicious I cannot wait to share it with you:

My friend Ashley, of Wooden Spoon Catering, made the cutest cake pops I have ever seen!  I asked her if she would make them then told her to do whatever she wanted with decorating them.  I had no doubt Ashley would make them cute but honestly, I was expecting  simple chocolate dipped, maybe some sprinkles.  I was floored when she walked in the door with multicolored, drizzled pops with tiny cherry blossoms!  Is she a genius?  I think maybe!

It was such a crowning moment when the wait staff started walking around serving these little dainty yet stunning bites of cake.  Not only were they gorgeous they were de-li-cious.  They were moist and tasty, I lost count of how many I ate.

Here's Auntie Squeak with a cake pop and me with a mochi.

There are so many more details I could share but I think one whole week of baby shower is plenty!  It was a lot of work, but it was worth every minute.

Now I just have to wait for that baby to be born!  Come on little nephew!  Auntie wants to see you!



This is part 4 of a series on the Japanese themed baby shower we threw for my sister Natalie.  If you missed out on the previous posts you can catch up here:

The Very Beginning... The Invitations... The Decor...

I love to be able to give a favor to party guests, something to send them home with to remind them of the fun they had at the gathering.  When I was brainstorming for the shower, I wanted to be able to give away something... girly!  Then it came to me, I had seen so many DIY posts on making fabric flowers and I just knew I could figure out a way to get them onto a bracelet.  And then I realized that if I had a bunch of "flowers" I could use them as decor on the table, once again color as the main decorating component.

Then my step-sister Amy did something she would live to regret.  She volunteered to help out.  Actually, a lot of people volunteered to help out with the shower and in fact, there were many hands involved in throwing this shin-dig, but Amy was THE ONE I knew could take this DIY project and run with it.  Run with it she did.  I think she popped out these babies (about 60 of them) in 2 days!  Don't worry, she's still alive.

The finished bracelets were wrapped around a set of chopsticks, then placed on the dinner plate at each setting.  There were single flower bracelets in multiple colors.

There were "special" ones (front)  that were layered with different textures & colors and there were "small" ones (back) for the little girl guests.

Amy added even more frills and flowers to Natalie's bracelet to set it apart from everyone else's.

And because the flowers were attached to a hair clip, they could be easily detached and worn as a hair accessory, like Ella here.  After hot gluing the flower to the hair clip, they just "snapped" onto little elastic-bead bracelets I got from Oriental Trading Company.  Easy peasy.  Time consuming.  But easy.

I loved looking around the room and seeing the guests wearing their flowers, either in their hair or on their wrists.

If you want to know how to make your own fabric flowers, you can check out the link here from Skip To My Lou

I'm hoping to share all about the shower food tomorrow!



If you have missed the posts from earlier this about my little sister's Japanese themed baby shower, you can find them here: The Very Beginning; The Invitations

On to the decor!!  As I mentioned in The Very Beginning, inspiration boards play a large role in my event planning.  One of the inspiration boards from Natalie's shower was this one:

When I began thinking about what decorating items would work for a Japanese theme, lanterns immediately came to mind and so the search for pretty yet affordable lanterns began.  I ended up using a company online called Luna Bazaar.  What I loved about their site... well, besides the fact that they have a wide selection of lanterns... they allow you to search by color.  If you are looking for blue lanterns, you just select "blue lanterns" from the sidebar and tadah!  Every blue paper lantern in every size they sell is right in front of you!  It made ordering so simple.  And as a side note, they shipped out really quick too.

So after playing with a bunch of color combos and figuring out what sizes to order, in the end I decided on the these lanterns:

23 lanterns to be exact.  Now, the space we were in was not huge.  It was cozy and intimate, but not large.  And although we had plenty of tables, I didn't want to clog them up with a bunch of little deco items.  Also, the more you have to buy to fill the space, the more it's going to cost.  So instead, we used big pops of color throughout the space and centralized in the middle of the room.

One of the perks of merging the family shower between our two families was that Micheal's family had tons of authentic Japanese items like the banner you see above.  They generously allowed us to decorate with their family heirlooms and it made this whole event really feel like a family celebration.

Look at how gorgeous this... uhh... I don't know what it's called... it's part of a kimono, the part that wraps around the torso... anyway, look how gorgeous it is!  I think this was my favorite thing brought over from Grandma Uno's house.

This was Natalie's seat at the head table.  Jill, Natalie's mother-in-law, decorated Natalie's place setting special from all the rest.  She used items from the Uno treasure trove:  special china, chopsticks, etc.  It was perfect.  The flowers you see on the plate are part of the DIY project, I will tell you more about that later this week.

This picture is also gives you a good look at the paper we used to decorate the tables.  One day, months before the shower, I wandered into World Market (Cost Plus) to see if anything caught my eye.  This turned out to be the best decision I made, no joke.  I found rolls and rolls of that paper you see on the table and I bought every single one they had!  There were about 4 different versions, some more pink, some more gold, but all very pretty and well within our theme.  Every time I drove anywhere near a World Market, within a 50 mile radius, I stopped in and bought up all of their paper.  We used almost every scrap of it on the tables in place of table cloths and once again it proved that you don't need a lot of "stuff" to decorate a room.  As soon as the lanterns were up and the paper was down on the tables the room was transformed.

Here's another view of some of the other papers (and Auntie Martha):

Auntie Martha also let us borrow these to decorate with:

Here's another view of the head table:

I made another great discovery while at World Market:

This amazing piece is a shade screen!  And it was only $15!  It was a very fitting addition to the room.

Do you remember seeing that little Japanese girl somewhere before??  Maybe from the stamps??

I bought a bunch of those bags while at World Market, they were too cute to resist.  At the time, I wasn't totally sure what we would do with them but they ended up being worth every penny because we not only used them for the flower arrangements at the head table,  we scanned the bag to make the stamps.

There were so many other wonderful decor items:

I wish I could show you more of the decor, but it's nearing 11pm and I need to get some sleep!

Tomorrow, I will give you the story behind the flowers on the plates.... it should probably be entitled, "I Bet Amy Wishes She Hadn't Volunteered."  Till then, my friends!


Today I'm continuing with the details of my sister's Japanese themed baby shower.  If you missed the first post you can catch up here.

I've told you before that I know some amazing people.  I am proud to call them my friends.  One of those people is my buddy Bree (aka: Lucy).  Bree is the owner of Wedding Tulle (, an online wedding stationary and accessories site.  You may have heard of it, it has been featured in  Real Weddings, The Knot, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Brides Magazine and more.  She's kind-of a big deal.  And she's my party-planning-partner-in-crime.

One day Bree and I were discussing the shower and as soon as I mentioned "Japanese Theme" I could hear her little wheels turning in her brain.  About a week later she called me up and said,  "I have the perfect invitation template... it's folds over like a kimono!"  to which I exclaimed, "That's exactly what I was thinking of doing!"  We think so much alike it's scary.

The next thing to do was to pick the paper that would become the "jacket" of our invitation.  The internet search began and soon we were reminded of this website: The Paper Studio.  I have drooled over their papers for years and this was the perfect excuse to order some samples.  They have a whole section of their site dedicated to authentic Japanese Chiyogami, Yuzen & Washi papers and for a small fee will send you samples of them.  I went a little crazy.  I ordered about 20 samples.  This turned out to be a problem because I fell in love with ALL of the sample pieces!  Here are a few of the samples I ordered:

It was so hard to choose!  I shuffled those samples around and around, I polled everyone for opinions, and in the end I did what any self-respecting designer would do...

I ordered 5 different papers and used all of them! I need to stop right here and let you know the customer service at The Paper Studio was out-of-this-world!  They are so friendly and helpful and I would definitely buy their products for future projects.

You'll notice above that the envelopes we used were made of vellum so that the gorgeous papers were visible as soon as the guest picked up the mail. We made the mail pretty!

As I was mailing the invitations it donned on me you might like to see the stamps we used so I snapped this real quick with my phone, in the back of my car, in the rain.  I must really like y'all.

This was one of those details that I had planned on doing, then when it came down to the wire I was tired, I was cranky, I didn't think we had time and Bree insisted we simply HAD to do it.  She was right.  It was the icing on the cake.  Here's how it happened:  at the very last minute, I raced home and scanned the image (a bag that you will see later) and emailed it to Bree.  Bree did some fast editing and uploaded the graphic to  A couple days later we had darling little Japanese-girl stamps and people just raved over them.    And it gave the guests a little peak into what they might expect come shower-day.

The moral of the story is, always listen to Bree.  She knows her stuff!

Oh!  I almost forgot to show you the inside of the invitation!

Since the outside was the main attraction, we kept the inside of the invite pretty simple.  And that was also due to the fact that Japanese styling tends to be real minimalist.  I wanted to carry that feeling over to the invitation.  The one truly OCD moment Bree and I had was with the color of the wording.  You see, each of the papers were different colors.  We could have settled on black or brown for each invitation.  But we didn't.  While Bree was slaving in the back of her shop cutting out all of the "jackets", I was in the other room searching Adobe Kuler for just the right ink color...for each paper.  I must have printed out about 30 samples until we arrived at just the right shades of ink.  So five different papers, five different ink colors.  Don't look at me like that, we wouldn't have been able to sleep that night if we hadn't done it our way!

Bree added the finishing touch with the coordinating belly-bands and medallions.  That girl is pretty clever.

I just loved how these invitations turned out and the guests seemed pretty excited about them too.

Next post I will try to delve into some of the decor, and a little DIY project that turned into the favors.

So... I've been a little busy,  as I'm sure you noticed by the lack of attention here.  Sorry about that, but it was for a very good reason!  My sister's baby shower was this weekend and it was a huge undertaking and it was tons of fun.  So to tease you just a bit, here are some sneak peek photos of the event:

All the details coming next week, I promise!!


photo by Jessica Cole Photography

It all began with this little guy:

Hudson came to greet us all in December of 2009. His mommy is Bree, my buddy and co-instigator.   It was right about this time that we started planning his first birthday party, because we are crazy like that.  And if  one of us is planning a party, the other is by default included.  This makes for some exciting adventures!

When Bree and I plan a party we begin with Brainstorming phase. During the Brainstorming phase, we are allowed to throw out any idea, no matter how crazy or bizarre. Laughter is the hallmark of this phase, we can both come up with some wild ideas!   After we have tossed around all of the brilliant, mediocre and hilarious ideas in our brain, we move on to the next phase, Research. We scour through websites, blogs, magazines, cookbooks, etc., looking for that perfect party-theme.

That's what lead us to this article: Mr. Man Party from Hostess with the Mostess. I am going to stop and do a little shameless name dropping here. The Hostess with the Mostess website is the creative goldmine of Jenn Sbranti, formerly of my hometown, alumnus of my alma-mater Faith Christian High School and in fact, I was her JV Volleyball coach, the poor girl.   Anyway, HWTM had featured an article on a party by Christiana Brian, a Mr. Man Party.  At that point, Bree and I knew we just had found the theme for Hudson's 1st birthday party, except we changed it to a Little Man Party, since their last name is "Little", it was just too good to resist!

With inspiration from HWTM and our own ideas thrown in for good measure, we started 2011 off with one fun party.  That of course required a custom designed invitation from Wedding Tulle, which handily is owned by Bree.  Bree came up with this quirky and fun invitation that let everyone in on the party theme right off the bat.

BTW: All of Hudson's photos were taken by the amazingly talented Jessica Cole.

We tried to fit in as many "manly" props, foods, and decorations as we could.  That's where these came in:

Chocolate Mustaches!  We could have bought them, but like I've said before, homemade is better.  And cheaper.   I made them with melted down Dove chocolates.  And they were yummy.  And I was bathed head to toe in chocolate by the end of the day.  Not a bad day.

Next came the ties!  Bree and Brandy (another party conspirator!) picked out a bunch of beautiful patterned papers and made ever so many ties for banners, gift bags, etc. Aren't they adoreable?!

Then there was the food! Bree and Dan created a menu of "mini man food" such as mini sliders, popcorn chicken, hot dogs in a blanket and for the littlest of men, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Our good friend Ashley Park of Wooden Spoon Catering made the lovely cookies, mimicked after the patterns on the ties. Thank you Ashley!!

Then of course, there was the birthday cake and matching mini cake by Mickey's Cake Creations, again modeled after the patterned papers used throughout the party.

As for entertainment, what's more entertaining than a photo booth for your party? Bree printed out a variety of mustaches and glued them onto sticks for props along with signs of good wishes and happy birthday for Hudson. Here you see LeiLani and I sporting our cool 'staches.

And the birthday boy... well, I think he liked it!

We had so much fun, and we hope the guests did too. Thank you to everyone who helped with planning, constructing, cooking and cleanup (Bree's Kitchen Crew, you know who you are!). Hudson-buddy, your Auntie loves you and can't wait to see what kind of party-craziness your mommy has planned for me next year!

Merry Christmas to all.

This was a collaboration with one of my best-buddies  Bree (aka: Lucy), owner of , for best-buddy LeiLani's baby shower when she was pregnant with Mia.  Here we are the day of the shower:

The approach was simple:  LeiLani was obsessed with damask and these black chandeliers she had seen at Urban Outfitters.  So obsessed that she decked baby Mia's whole room in it.  Naturally we ran wild with it and not only designed the invitations in damask & chandeliers, we decorated the whole shower that way! 

This invitation brings back some wonderful memories and you can order it or other custom invites at

My best friend and I have a revolving-trade-agreement going on.  I help her out with her marketing materials, she pays me in makeup.  Most of the time I feel like I'm getting the better end of that bargain! This is her new business card for her business, Makeup By Leiani.  She and I collaborated on the look and feel she was going for starting with a new shape, the oval, and designed around it.  She didn't want to clog this card up with a bunch of text.  She conducts most of her scheduling online so we decided just her name, website, and phone number were necessary.  It's part business card, part calling card and it has been receiving rave reviews.  It really stands out on a desk or in a sea of other business cards and it's really fun to pass it out at mixers or other industry events.