luau invitation

June 5, 2012 § Leave a comment

I’ve been busy around here finishing up the invites for our next birthday party: a luau for Sophie’s 8th. The invitations are my favorite part of putting together a party, and this invite idea began with me trying to make mini leis using baker’s twine and some paper flowers. They were pretty, but I couldn’t quite pull the look together so I ended up stringing the flowers across the top with the twine and secured a couple more with jeweled brads at the bottom. Beautiful coordinating papers I found from the Ambrosia line by Bo Bunny tied in perfectly with the party’s Hawaiian colors.

As usual for her parties, Sophie had a definite opinion on the invitation’s design and especially the wording. After several tries, together we came up with our sweet little poem, and now she can’t stop reciting it. We are getting excited for our little sister’s big day. I’m having fun planning for the delicious food, perfect party favors and even a hula lesson. And as for the decorations, I’ve got a great idea for a new banner and a some cool arrangements with paper flowers and lanterns that I’ve seen on Pinterest – I can’t wait to see how it all comes together. The anticipation is so much fun!

cheese grits

June 3, 2012 § Leave a comment

Born and raised in the heart of Florida, I’m a true southern girl and, as such, I love southern cooking. We had some friends over for dinner last night, and I was excited to make one of my favorite sides: cheese grits. In the South, grits are not simply for breakfast and, in fact, a number of our favorite upscale restaurants in Atlanta serve grits as a side item to chicken, fish, steak or pork. I served this delicious cheese grits casserole once to my supper club and laughed when our very Parisian-chic member said to me, “Carrie, what is this grit?” in her strong French accent. For those not familiar with grits, I often compare them to polenta. At our dinner party last night, we threw some flank steak on the grill, and I served it up with a mixed green salad and grits. The results were perfect. Our friends’ kiddos were a little skeptical at the start, but with the first taste I had them – they gobbled it up! This is a great recipe to add a little southern flare to your meal.

welcoming summer

May 25, 2012 § 2 Comments

With the long weekend, it officially feels like summer around here. Ever since our Halloween banner project, my friend Stacy and I have been in production mode making banners for most of the holidays. And just when I was beginning to get tired of repeating the same design, my favorite craft store Ben Franklin got in fresh supplies. In addition to their other banner-making embellishments, Paper Accents is now selling extra-large chipboard pennants and, as is usually the case at my Ben Franklin, one of the employees had made a sample inspiring me to try my own. I combined some pretty blue and yellow papers and buttons from My Mind’s Eye and made flags to string across the top from my collection of Washi tape. I love the results: a cool new banner for the front door to welcome guests – and summer – to our house.


chicken enchiladas

May 11, 2012 § 6 Comments

At last weekend’s Cinco de Mayo party, I brought my chicken and cheese enchiladas, always a hit. The recipe comes from one of my favorite cookbooks, True Grits: Tall Tales and Recipes from the New South, published by the Junior League of Atlanta. I loved living and eating out in Atlanta for almost 10 years, and this cookbook includes recipes from many of the city’s best offerings, along with some great stories by southern authors. (I find Junior League cookbooks in general to be fantastic and have ones from Houston and Seattle as well.) These enchiladas are perfect for kids and adults, either plain or spiced up with salsa and fixings. They go fast, so I usually double or triple the recipe – so perfect for a taco night get-together with friends.

Creamy Chicken and Cheese Enchiladas

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 cup chopped onion
10 flour tortillas
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup flour
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup sour cream
1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chiles, drained

Rinse the chicken and pat dry; cut into thin slices. Saute the chicken in the olive oil in a skillet until brown; drain. Combine the chicken, cheese and onion in a bowl; mix well. Spoon the chicken mixture onto the center of each tortilla; roll the tortilla to enclose the filling. Place the enchiladas seam side down in a 9×13-inch baking dish. Heat the butter in a saucepan until melted. Stir in the flour until blended. Add the chicken broth; mix well. Cook until thickened, stirring constantly. Stir in the sour cream and chiles. Spoon the sauce over the enchiladas. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until bubbly.

mad hatter tea party

March 11, 2012 § 5 Comments

With the girls’ birthdays exactly six months apart, I am almost always in party planning mode. There’s usually a month or two lull when I’m happily basking in the post-party glow of our latest soiree, but then the itch comes, and once again I excitedly start gearing up. As our next party’s planning begins, a luau for Sophie’s 8th birthday, I can’t help but remember her 7th: a lovely Mad Hatter tea party.

The girls had been in an Alice In Wonderland phase for a while, loving the book and the movies, so an Alice-themed party seemed perfect. The invitation was a fun project. And inspiration struck when I got the idea of designing one crazy-long table in the backyard for all the children to sit together for the tea party; plywood on boxes, covered with pretty Land of Nod polka-dot sheets as a tablecloth, worked perfectly to make cozy seating for 18! I love industrial elements and decided to use galvanized metal buckets and mason jars as containers, brown craft paper and office supply tags. We had so much fun making “Eat Me,” “Drink Me,” “Enjoy Me,” and “Play Me” labels to attach to everything. I picked up lots of inexpensive mismatched tea cups – one for each guest – which made great party favors.

When the children arrived, we had a table set up to make your own Mad Hatter fascinator (I’d been inspired by the Royal Wedding), quite a hit. In the backyard, kids could play croquet, go on a key-finding treasure hunt or take part in “Painting the Roses Red” at an art table. Everyone had so much fun – I loved watching the little ones practicing raising their pinky fingers and giggling their way through our fancy tea party. It was a magical day for my special Alice.

a new year’s eve ball

January 14, 2012 § 2 Comments

Surprisingly, it took 10 years of party themes before I got the idea to combine Bella’s January 2nd birthday with New Year’s Eve.  The results were lovely, I must say.  We started with an adorable shirt from Crewcuts – with a picture of a girl in a ball gown – as our inspiration.  Bella wanted to incorporate masks and have an elegant Cinderella-type theme.  She also wanted a disco ball and dancing – hey, she’s her mommy’s girl!  We had lots of fancy appetizers, of course mac ‘n cheese, and for dessert: red velvet cupcakes with sparkler candles.

Every party has special memories, and with this one I’ll always remember the children (and some grown-ups) dancing around like crazy under the disco ball in our living room, the girls sitting under that same disco ball playing cards later in the night when they got tired of dancing, and all the kids running around our front yard in their fancy party clothes at the end of the night waving the gigantic sparklers we got – fun!!

I think I put so much time and energy into my girls’ parties because it lets me explore my creative side and be crafty which always makes me really happy.  But I also love that they’ve become “my thing” – something special I do for my girls that I hope they will always remember.  I spend a lot of time working on the invitations, and I keep them all.  They remind me of the little details – and especially all the love – that went into marking each year of my darling girls’ lives.

party planning

June 27, 2011 § 2 Comments

I’ve been a busy bee putting the final touches on my little one’s 7th birthday party. This year, it’s an Alice in Wonderland theme, which was her choosing but something I can definitely get excited about. I absolutely love planning my girls’ birthday parties. It lets me put together my love for crafting, entertaining and focusing on the little things that make my life so full.

My favorite part is the invitation and the party favors. Now I don’t expect anything fancy from other parties we go to, but with ours I just love to push myself and dive into the little details. I like to think that my girls can feel my love in each little ribbon and flourish. I plan everything out, enjoying the process of coming up with fantastic ideas and tying everything back to the theme. I have saved all the party invitations over the years, and I want to create a little scrapbook for each girl as a sort-of party time capsule so they can look back and know that each year we celebrated their birth with a lot of love and excitement.

For the invitation this time, I found perfect Mad Hatter Tea Party rubber stamps from TJ Designs combined with a few industrial touches like brown paper tags and masking tape. Beautiful aqua papers from My Mind’s Eye’s Stella and Rose Collection tied in perfectly. On the back I added a little pocket and let my little one help in deciding what we should include. We ended up with a stamped key, a playing card and a Mad Hatter tag that she colored herself. She has her own strong opinions, and I like to make sure I include all her great ideas.

Last year, her party was a Wizard of Oz theme, but not just Wizard of Oz; she was very specific that it should be a Wizard of Oz play party. All of her friends would come and they would act out a play of the Wizard of Oz using the movie soundtrack as their guide. So for weeks we worked to build a stage and put together costumes. I planned all the details. There were tickets, coloring book programs and popcorn for the show. She practiced her play a lot and obviously had a vision, but we weren’t sure how it would come out or if she would actually even do it. On the day of the party, when my shy little birthday girl stood up on that make-shift stage and belted out “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” loud and clear to our family and friends just like she’d practiced, it was amazing. She said it was better than she’d even dreamed of. I know it was definitely better than anything I could have planned!

any excuse for a party

April 29, 2011 § Leave a comment

I absolutely LOVE parties. The fun birthdays I throw for my girls are my favorites, but any chance to go to or have a party makes me happy. I relish the planning, and the reminiscing always makes me smile. Even the “taco nights” we’ve been having with our friends lately bring a little something extra to a regular week.

So, of course, the royal wedding today gave me the perfect excuse for a celebration. I put together a little BYOT (tiara) breakfast party for my girlfriends so we could watch the festivities after we got our kiddos off to school. I served a quiche and scones with whipped cream, lemon curd and jam. To drink: coffee and mimosas! What a great way to spend a Friday and kick off the weekend. Congrats to the royal couple and thanks for giving me a reason to party!

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