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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!

 

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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!

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There is a baby coming soon in our family!  My sister Natalie is expecting her first baby in just about 1 month and so it was time for the baby shower.  Truth be told, I started planning this baby shower...uhh... well, I think I started the day her and Michael got married.  I like to be prepared, sue me!

First let me say, I did not pull this off on my own.  This shower was a HUGE undertaking, from the planning to the execution, and it was a group effort:  myself, my sister Laura, my sister-in-law Chris, Natalie's mother-in-law Jill and Natalie's good friend Megan.  These gals helped every step along the way and to them I want to say a big THANK YOU.  There are others who played a large role in the details, more on them later on.  But you know who you are, so many thanks to you too!

There were a lot of pieces and parts to this shower so rather than flood this post with a kazillion pictures and links I will split it up into several different posts so keep your eyes peeled this week for the "rest of the story."

So today, I'm going to give you a little peek into how I go about planning a party.

STORYBOARDS

One of the best tips I can give you when in the planning phase of an event is to put together a storyboard of your ideas.  I knew from the beginning I wanted the shower to be Japanese themed because my brother-in-law is half Japanese and therefore my little nephew would be Japanese too.  Additionally, this shower was a joint-effort between his family and ours so celebrating their ethnic roots was important to me.  Now, when I am in the brainstorming phase of  a party I allow my brain to go a little crazy.  Some of the ideas are good ones, some of them are just weird.  But even a weird idea can morph into something brilliant if you allow it "simmer" for a bit.  That's where the storyboards come into play.

I started collecting little pictures of as many "Japanese" items I could find in stores, internet, you name it.  I also began noticing colors and color themes that were catching my eye.  Eventually,  I took the-best-of-the-best of these ideas and started organizing them into the storyboards you see here.  Not all of the ideas were realized at the shower, but they helped to keep me on track when I went shopping, was ordering things online, etc.  And since this party was actually given by 5 different women, I was easy to give each gal a copy of the storyboards and say, "OK, here's what it needs to look like, now run with it!"  And they did!

Looking back over the storyboards, now that the party is over, I am so pleased that we were able to incorporate so many of the ideas.  Some of them were literal translations.  For instance, those mochi ice cream balls you see above, we were able to have those for dessert instead of a big ugly sheet cake from the local discount grocery store with that funky blue frosting that you are never quite sure if it's made out of real food or not... yeah, you know what I'm talking about.  Other things were more of an "inspiration" for something we translated in our own way, like the main courses.  We had originally planned to serve teriyaki bowls and sushi but after meeting with the chef we were able to serve other Japanese inspired dishes that were more creative and entirely yummy.

So that's where it all started:  a Japanese themed party full of color and good food.  Can't wait to share more details with you!!

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By far, the most popular article on my site is the one on Hudson's Little Man Party.  Bree (aka: Lucy) and I (and others like Brandy and the vendors) worked so hard to pull that party together.  It was so much fun.   Then a couple months ago the local family magazine Me and Mine contacted Bree about possibly featuring his party in their Spring issue.

So with my blessing, Bree took my original article and photos, cut it down to size and submitted it and lo and behold, it came out in the Spring issue just a couple weeks ago!

Yea us!

PS:  It starts on page 12 if you're looking for it.  And if you want to read the original article in full, it can be found here.

Sprik Space: Just because (14).
As if the last project wasn't easy enough, this Valentine's Day project is even easier!  My Creative Departure highlighted this project which is actually from Sprik Space.

Sprik Space provided this lovely printable, 5x7.  Just print it out and put it in the frame of your choice!  AND.... she offers it in 14 different colors so you could leave it up all year!  I don't even know her... but I like her, she's so nice!

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Framed He”Art” | my creative departure.

If you haven't done any Valentine's Day decorating or gift-planning yet, here's an easy and inexpensive project to "put a little love in your heart"- That was for you Janna.  Janna knows I hate that song.  It's a long story, something to do with a telethon, swaying to the music with strangers and singing on television.  <Shudder>

Back to Valentine's Day... I stumbled on this little project from My Creative Departure and I think it's cute and thrifty and would even be a fun project to do with kids. 

And keep your eyes peeled next week for another Valentine's Day project that will prove to you just how lazy I can be :)

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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!

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Remember the post on pinecones with the template to make your own?  I couldn't take it anymore, I ran out to Michael's and bought a bunch of felt and some Tacky Glue (I haven't used that in years!) and started making my own pretty little pinecones.  Here's what I have figured out so far:

It has been both easy and hard.  The template is pretty straightforward, just print it out.  They recommend using freezer paper to adhere to the felt then trace the template onto the freezer paper then cut out the "leaves".  That seemed like an extra step to me so I just traced the "leaves" straight onto the felt with a black marker.  Yes, it's a little difficult because the felt is not smooth.  Yes, it made it a tiny bit harder to cut out because I had to stay inside of the lines.  Yes, I have a bunch of excess felt with pen marks all over it.  But in the end, I think it's easier my way.

I had forgotten how difficult it can be to cut through felt!  My large scissors were a little worse for the wear to begin with but they were barely cutting at all.  So I bought 2 new pairs of freshly sharpened scissors:  1 small, 1 large.  It turns out the small pair were the only ones that would go through the felt, short cuts are the trick.  From start to finish each pinecone takes me about 1 hour to complete.  I'd say a good 1/2 hour of that time is spent cutting out the pieces because felt just takes longer to cut out.

The top was a mystery.  Family Circle doesn't really show you how they put together the top pieces.  They just say to pinch the pieces together.  Let me tell you, I tried to pinch them them together a bazillion different ways, none of which turned out pretty or remotely looking like the tip of a pinecone.  So once again, I winged it, and I'm happy with it.

And as for the glue, in hindsight a hot glue gun might work a little better.  But I don't have one so the Tacky Glue is a good substitution, just takes a little longer for the top and bottom to adhere.  No biggie.

I thought by now I would have a bunch of pinecones but it's a little slower-going than I thought it would be (like I said, about 1 hour each) and 7 is all I've managed to finish.  But it has been a fun little project to work on while watching Christmas movies!

I had planned to put them on top of the Christmas presents but... I didn't want to part with them!  I'm thinking they might look awfully cute in a wooden bowl...hmmm.....

Merry Christmas to all.