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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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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.

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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!

Merry Christmas to all.

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Tip: ID Your Bakeware For A Safe Return | Apartment Therapy The Kitchn.

I am so going to do this project!  It looks pretty straight forward, you use glass-etching for the underside of the glass.  Baking and serving dishes are always traveling back and forth between family members, this is a great way to keep track of what belongs to who!

I have this friend, Serena.  We were best friends in Jr. High.  This is us back then:

We lost contact with each other in high school because she moved away.  It was the olden days, we didn't have email or Facebook back then.  I think we tried carrier pigeon for a while but my letters were too long so the poor little birdies couldn't get off the ground. But fast forward 24 years, and through the magic of Facebook, we found each other and picked up right where we left off!  This is us now:

After catching up, it turns out Serena and I are really more like twins who were separated at birth.  We listen to the same music, we read the same books, and we both love to cook.   And we share the same view that "homemade" is usually better. And it's always more fun.

Serena has twin girls and on my last visit to their home in WA, we sat down at the kiddie-table with them and played with play dough.  But it wasn't the store-bought stuff, it was dough that Serena had made herself.  Besides the "homemade" factor, it's really great dough!  Way better than the store-bought stuff because it's really smooth and pliable.  And it's super cheap because it's made with ingredients you already have in the pantry.

Serena sent me home with the recipe and I made it the other night while babysitting my niece & nephew.  Here is my niece Mia, very intent on impaling her gingerbread men.  She's a stinker:

This is the snowman Mia and I built.  Don't make fun of him, he has issues and is in therapy.

And here's the recipe!  This recipe is for a big batch, but simply cut the recipe in half or quarters to make smaller batches of multiple colors.  You can also make the big batch but hold off on adding the color until you get the ball of dough on the board and divide it.  It's a little messier that way, but it will work.

This was a collaboration with one of my best-buddies  Bree (aka: Lucy), owner of weddingtulle.com , 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 www.weddingtulle.com