Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Alice in Wonderland Party

Ella turned 8 this past weekend.  While I still imagine that she is small enough to carry around in a Baby Bjorn, I have to accept the fact that she is growing quickly.  Faster than I could have ever imagined.  We planned her party together... An Alice in Wonderland Tea Party.  She was quite specific about who she wanted there, what we should eat and drink and what the party games were to be.  It was quite an event, even for us. Not a single person RSVP ed "no".  It was so much fun, albeit exhausting!  All that matters is that my beautiful daughter had a good time, surrounded by the people that she loves the most.  The party was supposed to end at 5:00pm but most people stayed until 6:30!!!

Welcome to the party!  I purchased this printable sign from Cherry Pink Prints, off of Etsy. It seemed like the perfect way to greet our guests.

A couple of days before the party, we decided to paint the roses red!  We purchased these inexpensive white roses from the 99 Cent Store.  And then we had a blast spraying them with red paint.  After they dried, the kids adorned our bushes with freshly painted roses.  

What would a tea party be without hats?  The mini hats were ready-made and purchased for $4 each at a vendor in the garment district in downtown Los Angeles.  We got the larger top hats from a party supply store and jazzed them up with ribbons and flowers.

Zig-Zag prints are all over the place right now and I am completely taken with the trend.  My mother came to town just in time to help me sew these beautiful table cloths.  The red tablecloths and chairs were from a party rental house.  The tablecloths that she made were used as an overlay.  The teacups and saucers were different styles, but all white.   Most of my serving ware is white and I accented my collection with a few more that I purchased at Home Goods.  Bargain basement glamour!

This table seated 22.  We used 3, 8'x30" rectangular tables pushed together.  Again, the customized zig-zag fabric was used as an overlay.  The lanterns created a focal point.

Ella loves to drink tea.  She is absolutely obsessed will all kinds of teas and that was the inspiration for her party.   Here she is, enjoying a bit of a quiet moment with her cousin.  It was a hot day so we had ice cubes on hand. 

The spread.  Scones, sandwiches, mini tarts and candy.

As we were planning this party, Ella was very specific about what the color scheme was to be.  Red.  Grey.  Black.  A little white and a tiny bit of blue.  The color of Alice's dress in the classic Disney animated film.  This table had chocolate mousse hearts, tea pot shaped sugar cookies, pink lemonade cake pops and raspberry gum drops.

The crew.  Ella chose to wear a blue dress, just like the color of Alice's dress.

Women in my family have a disease.  We tend to over-feed our guests.  My mom, whipped up 5 different kinds of mini sandwiches.  She and Ella also put together the fruit kabobs, right before the party.  The cups were filled with lemon mousse and topped with white chocolate curls.

It was a beautiful day.

Cupcake #1: Cherry Chip with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting.  The cards were an Etsy printable from Katarina Art.

Cupcake #2: My favorite cupcake recipe...  White cake with cream cheese frosting.  I purchased the cupcake liners from Sur la Table.  The white chocolate curls came from Surfas.  

Cupcake #3:  These were our "painting the roses red cupcakes."  Maybe better in theory.  They ended up looking like something fun from the world of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  No matter, the kids gobbled these up and they disappeared faster than I could say, "Cheshire Cat!"  They were also Cherry Chip with Vanilla Buttercream.

Sometimes I get a little overly ambitious, as was the case with these paper flowers.  I made about 10 of them and grew tired of the project and moved onto something else.  Alice seemed to like them, though!

Lemon Tarts.  The shells were ready-made and purchased at Surfas.  I piped in a bit of lemon curd into the base and then covered that up with lemon mousse.  The raspberry finished it all off.  

Party revelers.  Enjoying the sweet life.

Originally, this clock was meant to be used as a decoration.  Until my son decided to turn it into an accessory.  At the beginning of the party, Milo wore bunny ears and the clock and ran around saying, "I'm late!  I'm late!  I'm late for an important date!"  Nobody asked him to do this, but he was happy to play the part.  

Pinning the grin on the Cheshire Cat.  Truth be told, I ordered a game off of Etsy a month ago that never arrived.  The night before the party, my husband whipped up his own version of the game.  It was a lot of fun.  For prizes, we gave out some fabulous tea coasters that my Mother-in-Law sent to us.  The children really seemed to love this.

The party favor.  The bag said, "Take Me".  Inside, there were three small gifts for our guests to enjoy.  "Read Me": a copy of the classic Lewis Carroll version of "Alice in Wonderland".  "Drink Me": a bag of one of Ella's favorite teas and, "Eat Me": a flower shaped sugar cookie.

This was the surprise hit of the party.  The kids received these "Drink Me" bottles as they entered.   I will not say what we put inside the bottles (strawberry lemonade) but I will say that it magically transformed the mini party goers into wild things.  Kids were ping-ponging all over the place!   Up and down the stairs.  They held onto their bottles for dear life.  And happily refilled them, again and again, at the punch bowl.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Superhero Cake

The cake was a recipe from Cake Doctor.  It was a Yellow Sour Cream Cake with Vanilla Buttercream frosting.  The fondant was Elite.  It contains white chocolate and is really good.  The print at home graphics came from B Squared Design.

After I made the cake batter, I separated it into thirds and used gel color to make the red, blue and yellow.  Gel colors are preferred because it takes very little to color a cake, as opposed to the old fashioned liquid kind.  I layered the colored batter on top of one another in concentric circles.  I tried hard not to move the pan too much.  Rather than evening out the batter with an offset spatula, I gently taped it on the counter and placed it in the oven.  The food color did not change the cooking time.

This is what the cake looked like when it was cut.  I almost cut the cake into four layers but I didn't want to disrupt the natural swirl that was created as the cake baked.  It was a hot day, so I opted for just a bit of buttercream between the layers.  Especially because I made and frosted the cake just hours before the party and there was little time to refrigerate.  It all made for a super light and moist cake.

Super Hero Party!

It is hard to believe but our baby boy just turned 5.  Like most boys his age, Milo is into two things... Superheroes and Star Wars.  It was hard for him to decide a theme for his party, but ultimately Superheroes won.  Naturally, I embraced this theme and went for it.  Most of the ideas below were taken from other party blogs.  All of it was fun to do.  Most importantly, the kids really seemed to have a great time.  

My husband is supremely talented.  He whipped this sign up to greet Milo on the morning of his actual birthday.  We left it hanging to welcome our party guests.

 The spread.  The party was from 2-4 pm so we set out a bunch of snack foods.  I was shocked at how much people ate!  On the table... Super Food! (fruit kabobs), Krunch! (Sun Chips & Pretzels), Super Dogs! (Mini Corn Dogs), Heroes! (Subway Sandwiches & Condiment bar), Pop! (Popcorn cones).

The dessert buffet.  The cake was vanilla but inside it was red, yellow and blue.  The fondant was cherry flavored.  What would any Superhero party be without a little Kryptonite?  Green Apple Rock Sugar Sticks.  And what has turned into a tradition at our house... cake pops.

Our photo booth.  I borrowed this idea from a few party websites.  It was so simple to make and so much fun for everyone.  My daughter helped me affix the windows (a.k.a. Post-its).

 Costumes to wear, costumes to share!  All for the photo booth.  I purchased the sign printables off of Etsy from B Squared Design.

 We had a Superhero dance party in our play room.  My husband made a mix of music the kids these days seem to love.  It was impossible for anyone to stand still.  

 Every man was once a little boy who dreamed of being Superman.  

 Pink Lightening

 The cake.  Once again, I purchased the graphics from B Squared Design and printed them with my own computer.

 The cupcakes were vanilla with cream cheese frosting.  If my son could have cream cheese at every meal, he would!  The cupcake holders and picks came from Williams-Sonoma.

 It is amazing that he had enough energy to blow out his candles, after running around all afternoon.

 My Dad, enjoying the Metropolis skyline.

 I caught these beauties red handed, sneaking candy.

 The birthday boy and his handsome father.  Milo's costume was "Cool Man".  

 This was another idea I stole from One Charming Party.  I purchased a lot of used comic books off of Ebay.  If you would like to make them yourself, all of the instructions can be found here.

 Punch is one of those nostalgic things that I would like to see make a comeback.  We often serve it at our parties, as an alternate to juice boxes.  

The popcorn cones.  I made them by scanning a comic book page and printing them onto cardstock.  I could have used regular paper but I was afraid that the oil from the popcorn would seep through and make it look greasy.  

The party favors were Superhero Learn-to-Read books that I purchased in sets at Costco.  The masks came from Party City.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Candyland Inspired Birthday Cakes

Last weekend, we celebrated the 5th birthday of my friends' daughter, Sadie.  Her party had a Candyland theme.  The kids got a little wacky, naturally.  But it was loads of fun.  I was asked to make the cake.  I was inspired by a cake I had seen online.  Rather than making a stacked cake, I decided to make three smaller cakes (much easier to cut when there are a bunch of impatient 4-5 year olds begging for cake).  Two of the cakes were chocolate with chocolate cream cheese frosting.  The other was a vanilla cake with buttercream frosting.  All were covered with fondant that I had purchased at Michael's; the Duff brand.  I have never loved fondant, but I have to say that their product is pretty darn good.  

The inspiration cake.  Isn't it magnificent?

Three cakes, sugar buzz!

We bought a ton of candy and I just went for it.  I did make several drawings of what I wanted to do but when I rolled my sleeves up and got busy, I sort of tweaked things a bit.

The pink cake was chocolate.  I left the lollipops wrapped, just to control the sticky.

The big problem I had by not stacking the cakes, was that I wasn't sure how to adorn the tops.  I had a few leftover candy buttons and used them to spell out Sadie's name.  I am still on the fence about whether this was effective or not.  It worked.  But I may have chosen something else if I had it to do over again.  

Japanese Themed Birthday Party

Our daughter turned seven yesterday.  She loves all things Japanese so we decided to have a party honoring her passion.  The cherry blossom was also a big inspiration.  We hosted the children from her class and their parents.  Naturally, we went to town.  My family worked hard to make the event memorable and fantastic.  

Cherry Chip Cake with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

The dessert spread.  Many of these goodies are traditional Japanese confections. Purchased from a dessert shop in Little Tokyo.  I added cupcakes because it wouldn't have seemed like a birthday party without them.

The children's table. I used 3, 15" high kid's tables and surrounded it with pillows, rather than chairs. I created the lantern canopy using 6' bamboo poles inserted into umbrella bases and then made an
"X" out of twine and suspended the lanterns from that.   I borrowed the pillows and table cloths from work (sometimes being a set decorator has its perks).  

Party Fans!  The cherry blossom chopsticks from Oriental Trading Co..  The place mats were a last minute choice.  They were constructed of recycled cardboard and fabric that I purchased at one of those crazy cheap places downtown for $1 per yard.  I made each 12 x 12 mat for less than 20 cents each.  And I had a ton of fabric leftover.  My Mom used some of it to sew tablecloths for the buffet and adult dining tables.  

What is a party without a few crafts?  We also had an origami making station and a cherry blossom tree table where the kids made rice paper "scrolls" using india ink and flowers punched out of origami paper. 

The party favors.  Bento boxes wrapped in fabric.

Japanese soda bar. The adults were offered chilled sake and Japanese beers.  I also made a huge batch of cucumber water.  

The food.  Mahogany Chicken Wings made by my amazingly talented Mom, fruit, sushi, rice snacks and seaweed.  My Mom also whipped up this tablecloth, just hours before the party began.

It was a hot day and I was just happy that the cake layers didn't slide!

This dress was bought from a seamstress on Etsy. She made the dress for Ella, according to her measurements. It is a sensational dress!

We also had a karaoke "lounge" set up for the kids to sing their little hearts out.

Etsy is my new best friend.  I bought ready made origami cranes, butterflies and flowers and used them as cupcake toppers.  Truth be told... I also bought the sugar paste blossoms.  But I did actually make the birthday "banner" out of extra origami paper.

Happy kid.  The party was a success!