What is it about bridal and baby showers that get me so excited? Ok Ok, I've really only thrown three, and they were all for my sister. I like to say she's the lucky one, because every time I put a whole lot of work in each and every one! For every shower, food has always been the center of my planning. But over the years, I think think my shower planning and decor skills have definitely evolved.
The first time around for my sister's bridal shower, I cleared out my bank account (well I didn't have very much as I was in grad school at the time- ha!) and worked with our chef friend who helped delivered a plethora of high end finger foods for my sister's tea party bridal shower- on new plates, teapots and teacups! My budding DIY self hand-painted the tea cups and teapots for a customized flower theme. At that time, I thought it was the best thing I ever did =P
Years later, for my sister's first baby shower, Jared and I worked hard to put together a stylized afternoon hors d'oeuvre party in a rental space, using all real equipment, real linen, real china, real silverware (all borrowed from the catering company I had been working at). Jared cooked up most of the menu while I created a small elephant theme by creating my own invites with tiny little mother and baby elephant cutouts hand-exacto'd by yours truly. I had ordered the cutest custom cookies from Bittersweet bakery made in the shape of elephants using the color scheme of blue, green and brown. Again, I thought I had outdone myself and that THIS was the best shower I had ever thrown. :)
Then came time for my sister's second baby shower. Now, I am very well aware of the fact that in general it's a faux pas to throw such a party, especially if she was having another baby of the same gender as the first. But seriously I cannot resist the opportunity to throw another shower. We decided to keep it a little more low key, shrunk the guest list and threw the shower at our house.
This time around, I made this party all about modern crafts. This gave me time to get my Martha Stewart on and ended up making crafts that were not only to be used as decor at the baby shower but to also be used as decor in the nursery. Hey, I like things that are multi-functional... and modern... and whimsical!
I had a couple ideas in my head so I went shopping for some paper with different patterns on each side. I found this perfect travel themed paper set by Martha Stewart and got started on my first project- homemade pinwheels. I haven't made or even seen a pinwheel probably since I was 5 years old so I had to do quite a bit of research to even remember how to properly make one! While pinwheels in general are easy to make, I also wanted to make sure I made sturdy ones, ones that could last a while and maybe a couple rounds of rough play by a future baby boy! :) I found this gorgeous tutorial on stylemepretty.com of an incredibly put-together pinwheel. While I didn't follow it very closely, I used it as inspiration and tried to reuse any leftover crafts items I had lying around. (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, folks!) I happened to have some large and small dowels on hand- I used the large dowel as the main carrying piece and the small dowel as the "pin". You can also pick up wooden dowels at your local craft store for less than a dollar each ($.59 @ Michaels). My dad and Jared drilled holes in the large dowel that allowed the "pin" to fit snugly inside with the help of some wood glue. To guarantee that the paper wheels stayed together and would rotate freely, we pounded a large sized eyelet to connect all the pieces of paper together before we set them on the "pin" dowel. I also happened to have a handful of these wooden beads that give the pinwheels a more whimsical look. I made 5 in total with two different paper patterns and two different sizes to give it some variation. I totally love how they turned out!
I started placing the pinwheels in small vases but they kept leaning to one side. Jared remembered he had a bag of walnuts still in their shell lying around and we used them to stack and keep the pinwheels upright. They also really made it feel like a fall day indoors. Talk about having a resourceful husband!
Next on my list were paper planes. I wanted to present them in two ways. Lately as I've been perusing etsy.com, I've been noticing a paper airplane design trend. As per usual my DIY self said, "I can do that myself!". I still had a ton of leftover felt from the last several felt mobile projects, so I cut out little paper airplanes, outlining them with black thread. These represent the daddy/mommy airplane doing a fancy loop-de-loop and a cute little baby airplane learning to fly :)
The first pillow graphics I made were all hand sewn. While I'm so proud of the way it turned out, it was way too time consuming. For the second pillow I took it to the sewing machine to make the paper plane outlines and it took me less than 5 minutes to do both (as opposed to the hours for the first pillow. So, um, that was a huge lesson learned!
hand-sewn vs machine sewn please excuse the bumpy paper plane outlines, I apparently cannot properly sew a straight line off a machine!
To continue the airplane theme, I wanted to fold some paper airplanes. I tried with little to no success, so I delegated this task to Jared, the resident paper-airplane-folding expert. I had him create a large and a small one and he used my leftover wires (also from the last mobile crafts) and stuck them in our potted plants all around our living and dining room.
Finally I couldn't help but add one more "P" to this baby shower theme. Pennants have officially made a comeback in the craft world so I decided to make a last minute one. I definitely did not have the time to sew a cloth one, so in the last hour I cut out triangles and letters and clothes-pinned them to suspended string across the room.
Oh Baby! Pennant
While I wanted to guarantee a large spread of really amazing food, I didn't have the energy to plan and execute yet another catering event. So I enlisted some help from Galit Greenfield, pastry chef/owner of www.sweetgalit.com. And wow did she deliver! Check out the following seasonal pastries.
We started with the most amazing pumpkin cupcakes with a cream cheese frosting. They were incredibly moist and perfectly sweetened. On the top tier are chocolate tarts as well as sauteed apple tarts with slivered almonds on top. And on the lower tier, are incredibly moist lemon financiers with blackberries.
My sister's eyes lit up when she saw these adorable macarons by Sweet Galit proclaiming,"I love macarons!". The baby blue ones had a creamy coconut ganache and the green ones had a delicious pistachio ganache. I'm pretty sure she ate the whole plate when I wasn't looking- they disappeared... fast! To the left is also Jared's guava gelee's topped with soft basil whipped cream, topped with basil and pomegranate seeds.