Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thankful!

What are you thankful for this year?

I am thankful for my husband, whom I adore and who takes such great care of me; our families always;  good girlfriends; and most especially for my baby boy, Greyson, and his good health as of late. He is an inspiration to so many people, fighting an incurable disease called Tuberous Sclerosis. For him to be stable and learning and growing is so much more than I could ever ask for. He's my little hero!


And of course, food and parties.

These were my turkey cake balls from last year's After-Thanksgiving Black Friday dinner.
My favorite part of Thanksgiving is the dressing. I don't even care about the turkey.
My specialty is Bacon Jalapeno dressing. Yum!

 Looking for a good recipe for your leftover dressing? Look no further! 
I saw this recipe on Food Network last year and it BLEW my mind. At our After-Thanksgiving Black Friday dinner last year, I made these and our friends all loved them!
Big Daddy's House 2 in 1 Sausage Stuffed Stuffing

Ingredients

8-ounce pack spicy sausage (recommended: Bob Evans)
2 cups canola oil, plus 1/4 cup
1 cup all-purpose flour, divided
3 cups chicken stock
1 (6-ounce) box chicken flavored bread stuffing mix (made according to package instructions)
1 tablespoon chopped parsley leaves, plus more for garnish
1 tablespoon chopped thyme leaves
2 tablespoons chopped scallions

Directions

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and drop dime-sized dollops of sausage into the pan. Cook until golden brown, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from the pan to a plate and set aside.
After removing sausage add a 1/4 cup of canola oil to the pan and stir in 1/2 cup of flour. Stir to create a roux, and cook for approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Slowly add the chicken stock, stirring while you pour and let simmer, stirring frequently, until it thickens, approximately 6 to 8 minutes.
In a separate saucepan heat 2 cups of canola oil on medium-high heat until it reaches 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl combine the stuffing, parsley, thyme, and scallions and mix together. Take quarter-sized or 1 tablespoon of stuffing mix and wrap it around the individual sausage balls. Cover the sausage completely and set aside
Once all of the sausage balls have been coated in stuffing, dredge them in the remaining 1/2 cup of flour. When all the balls are lightly coated in flour, carefully drop them into the hot oil and fry until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove them from the oil, to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Once all of the balls have been fried and drained turn off the heat to the gravy and add the fried sausage stuffing balls. Stir gently to coat the balls with the gravy and transfer to a serving bowl or platter. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Monday, November 22, 2010

{My Parties} Super Mario Birthday Party!

1-Up! It's Super Mario Party Time!
Wendy, the same client from the Casino party, also hired me to style a Super Mario Party for her son, the very next weekend. I was super excited to plan this party because, I don't know about you, but I was a HUGE Super Mario player back in the day when it first came out. My sister and I spent many the hour playing Mario, especially Mario 3.

The invitations were designed by One Stop Invite Shop on Etsy. There were three different designs, and all of them were actual tickets with detachable stubs. This shop was great to work with and I was thrilled with the results!
When I thought of Mario, I immediately thought of the game background itself. I found these great vinyl wall stickers at Birthday Express. I wanted the dessert display backdrop to look like the game world, and for the desserts to look like they were part of the game, sprouting out of the landscape.
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 The party was thrown in the client's garage, and this was one nice garage. I won't even tell you what mine looks like. But, let's just say that I don't want to throw a party in there anytime soon!
Wendy requested a balloon arch to be incorporated somehow, so I decided to do it over the food. At first, I had no idea how I was going to do the balloon arch, but then, as luck would have it, I found balloon tape at Factory Card and Party outlet. Are you familiar with this? It's literally a long roll of plastic with holes in it and then you just thread the balloon ends through the holes. It could not have been easier to make. It was time-consuming because you have to do it the day-of the event, but it's such a big impact!

 The oversized Mario and Luigi stand-ups were also from Birthday Express.
 For every kids' party, my favorite go to food is the dipped marshmallow. Kids love them and I thought they resembled cute little graphic flowers like the background of the game.
 I designed and printed the stickers with Tate's name on then, using paint.net and some sticker paper. I thought they added a super cute personalized touch to the party.
 The first thing that came to mind when I started planning this party was the green pipes that Mario goes up and down into different worlds with. And of course, I knew I wanted to incoporate that. So, PVC pipe was the perfect solution. It's easily purchased at Home Depot and I just sprayed it green with some Rustoleum. I was thrilled with how cute they looked!
 The fabulous Laurie from Whimsy Cookie Co. took the Mario party idea and ran with it. She came up with the most adorable designs for me and I can't thank her enough! She's the BEST. And, the best part, her cookies TASTE GREAT.
 And what's a Mario party without mustaches right? I made these with supplies from Bake It Pretty. At the last minute, I decided that they needed a little extra "umph," so I added the ribbon to the sticks. It really elevated the cuteness.

 The cake was made by Oh My Ganache Bakery. Isn't it to-die-for?? 
I made the cakestand out of an old hat box that I had lying around from another party. A little more Rustoleum, some felt, and some hot glue, and voila! a toadstool cake stand! 
 The details on this cake were just astounding to me! 

 For the menu labels, I thought a star would be perfect. I found this cute free font that I thought looked like a video game and used a little rainbow ribbon to tie them.
 I also spray-painted glass block and taped off a question mark for the blocks. The buffet needed a little more height and so I used those for builds.
 I kind-of wanted this to be my party! It turned out so happy and bright!
For the favor table, we ordered Mario boxes and filler from Birthday Express, as well as Mario water bottles. Then, I got the princess crowns at JoAnn and we special-ordered the Mario and Luigi felt hats from an Ebay seller, Markys Mommy. She was awesome and so FAST!
 I made the favor tags and the sign on my computer with a little help from some downloaded high-res Mario images.
 

 For the guest tables, I originally wanted to set out the hats at each place setting, but it turned out to be a windy day! So, I spray painted these cardboard star boxes into little Mario stars and covered the leftover dice from the Casino party with brick scrapbook paper and they made the perfect cute little centerpieces.
  I also found some small, leftover cardboard cake boards that I had lying around, so I spray painted those and made them into coins!
 The food for this event was also catered by Karen Shelton. It was so cute and everything was so kid-friendly, which is SO important. She named everything with a cute name that went with the theme!
 Piranha Plant Pizzas!
 Luigi's Sliders! These were, by far, my favorite touch--toadstool sliders!  The dots are mozzarella cheese! Isn't that super creative? I love working with Karen because of her great creativity!
 Chicken Skewers with Princess Peach dipping sauce.

 Here is our cute as a button birthday boy, Tate jumping on the trampoline.
 Love this great picture by J. Herndon Photography. He always knocks my socks off when I get my pictures back!
 Birthday Boy on the rock wall.
 Wendy hired an ice cream truck to come to the party too! Tate even got to help serve his guests!

   We also had Games on the Spot come to the party and the kids loved playing in the custom-built trailer!
 How cute are they?

 Then, it was time for cake!
So, so cute! 
 I just love this picture of these sweet girls playing in the bounce house!
 Cotton candy machine!
 Mommy and the Birthday Boy!
Happy Birthday Tate! I had so much fun planning your party!

Vendors:

Catering: Karen Shelton, Great Food Simply Done
Mustache Mold: Bakeitpretty.com
Candy: Candy.com
Mario Hats: Ebay Seller: Markysmommy
Cutouts, favor boxes, water bottles, napkins, wall decals: Birthday Express
Invitations: Etsy Seller: OneStopInviteShop
Photography: J. Herndon Photography

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

{My Parties} Casino 40th Birthday Party!

I designed this Casino themed 40th Birthday last month for a new client, who is amazing!
Wendy's husband was turning 40 and she really wanted a fun, over-the-top, yet classy Casino themed party.
I decided that a Black, Red, and White theme with touches of green, paired with ostritch feathers and hints to Las Vegas would be the way to go.
We found the invitation on Etsy, and the seller, FrameWorthy was awesome to work with! The client came up with the wording herself!
The location of the party was a neighborhood clubhouse and it was such a gorgeous venue for a small party.
It featured a vaulted ceiling and a huge stone fireplace, which I took advantage of for the prime location for the dessert bar.

I used 4x8 construction insulation covered in fabric from Joann for the backdrop, with garlands made from playing cards that I simply hot-glued onto thin red ribbon. The feathered stands were made from black Eiffel Tower vases with a bouquet holder inserted into the top. Then, I put the ostritch feathers in the top. All the glassware is from my own personal collection.
The gorgeous cake stand was from HomeGoods. It's hard to tell, but it had black jewels hanging from it.
Some of the candies were Hot Tamales, gummy cherries, red and black gumballs, dice lollipops, and Haribo raspberries. Then, I also did dipped marshmallows, chocolate covered oreos, and iced cookies.
On either side of the buffet, I hung oversized playing cards from the built-in bookshelves. I also hung them around the room to bring the theme into the rest of the space.

The adorable cookies with from Whimsy Cookie Co. Laurie is SO talented and an absolute pleasure to work with!
I made the dipped marshmallows and inserted them into foam, covered with scrapbook paper to match the theme.
The dice pops were one of my very favorite finds for this party. Aren't they just adorable?
I designed all the menu cards for the dessert buffet to look like the Las Vegas sign. But I changed the colors around and made it match our theme!
The gorgeous Oreo from Sweeties By Kim. She is awesome to work with and these were the hit of the party!
The absolutely beautiful cake blew my mind. It was made by Oh My Ganache Bakery (cute name right?). When I opened the box, I gasped at the level of detail.

To cover the bouquet holders in the vases, I used ostritch feather cuffs that I got at Joann. They worked perfectly!
For the favor station, there was a lovely piece of art above this console, but it just didn't match out theme, so we covered it in leftover fabric from the backdrop and made our own small backdrop.
 The favors were ordered from BeauCoup. Each guest got an individual deck of cards, personalized with "Thanks for making Beau's 40th a Full House" on the case.

Instead of seating, I did high-top tables scattered around the room. Since we had actual gaming tables up, we wanted people to be up mingling the entire time, so we provided them with somewhere to put their drinks and plates.
Wendy, the hostess, found this adorable Casino mix and we put some on each of the high-top tables and at the bar.
The food was catered by the awesome Karen Shelton, of Great Food Simply Done. This was the first time I had worked with her and I was extremely impressed with her creativity, presentation, and her food!

 She also made these great menu cards to go along with her foods, and each one had a clever name.


And, of course, some party pictures!



 The birthday boy, Beau!
 Beau and Wendy
 And, I almost forgot our photo op! Shindigz did this photo op for me and it turned out so cute!
All photography was done by Jody Herndon of J. Herndon Photography (some of these are from my camera). Jody is amazing to work with for any event (he even did my wedding!).

And a special thank you to my dear friend Sallie, for helping me with set-up on the day of the event. She is always amazing!

Hope you enjoyed my Casino party!!

Major thank-yous to all the vendors who helped me pull this Casino party together. I could not have done it without you!

Vendors:

Chocolate Covered Oreos: Sweeties By Kim
Poker chip and Playing Card Cookies: Whimsy Cookie Co.
All Fabrics: JoAnn
Foam Dice: Target and Shindigz.com
Stand-Up Photo Op, Large playing cards,  napkins, plates: Shindigz.com
Eiffel Tower Vases: Save-On Crafts
Favors: Beau Coup
Catering: Karen Shelton, Great Food Simply Done
Invitations: Etsy Seller: FrameWorthy
Photography: J. Herndon Photography

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