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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 (weddingtulle.com), 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 stamps.com.  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.


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.


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!!