Real Baby Shower: Family Celebration

Friday, April 29, 2011

Okay, I do love over-the-top, insanely designed baby showers but I also have a special place in my heart for those showers devoted to being together as a family to celebrate an upcoming birth. This special day was captured by the talented Amanda from Orchard Cove Photography and I'm sure you'll have the same reaction as I did when looking through these lovely photos.

From Heidi... It was wonderful to have so many women, from various chapters of my life, come together to celebrate the pending arrival of our first baby (a little girl named, Fia). I seem to be blessed with many thoughtful, and incredibly creative, friends and family who added so many special touches to the shower. My cousin Amanda, with Orchard Cove Photography, was there capturing the event and gave us several hand-knit (adorable) new born hats, my cousin Jenny arrived with a platter of handmade chocolates from her chocolate shop and a beautiful hand knit sweater (91), my step-mom and her friends picked wildflowers for the tables (22), my cousin Lila arrived with a handmade blanket, bib, and clothing from her company (65), Ruby-Lu...and the list goes on and on! My mom stood to say a few words and asked that when this group of women greet this baby they say to her, "thank you for coming, we love you."

Photography (Baby Shower & Maternity): Orchard Cove Photography

DIY Tutorial: Neapolitan 5-Layer Cake

Thursday, April 28, 2011

I am a HUGE fan of Sweetapolita and am so excited to share this Beautiful + Yummy five layer cake with you! Rosie's Neapolitan Cake is completely over-the-top AWESOME. And after reading the instructions below, I think I can even attempt to make it. Wish is saying a lot. So... it should not be a big surprise that you'll be seeing more from Sweetapolita -- more beautiful sweets and definitely more diy tutorials.

From Rosie... I have great news! My temporary cake-diet, you know, the one during which I stopped eating cake, is over, and I’ve resumed my more permanent cake-diet, the one where all I think about and often indulge in cake. And, let me say, I ended it and restored order just in time: 3 layers of rich Southern Devil’s Food Cake stacked between fluffy Neapolitan flavoured Swiss Meringue Buttercreams: Belgian Chocolate, Vanilla, and Strawberry, and topped with pure dark chocolate sprinkles from Holland. If you read the past post of mine, Neapolitan 5-Layer Birthday Cake with Strawberry Frosting, you’ll recall that I adore Neapolitan. In that case, the cake itself was Neapolitan. The flavours really bring me back to my childhood, and I was so happy to see that so many of you felt the same way after reading that post. Lately, I’ve been thinking more and more about Neapolitan and how I think there may be a serious shortage of it in my day-to-day life, so I’ve been dreaming up new ways to incorporate it into my world. This was a really fun start to that mission! 


(3-layer Southern Devil’s Food Cake with Neapolitan Swiss Meringue Buttercream)
Yield: One 3-layer 8″ round cake 

6 oz. (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
8 oz. (1-3/4 cups) all-purpose flour
2 cups packed dark brown sugar
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs, at room temperature
2-1/4 oz. (3/4 cup) unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder (such as Cacao Barry Extra Brute)
1-1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
1-1/2 cups buttermilk, at room temperature
1/4 cup mayonnaise 

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter three 8″ x 2″ round cake pans, line with parchment rounds, and dust with flour, tapping out the excess.
2. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, brown sugar, and vanilla on medium-high speed until lighter in color and slightly increased in volume, 3 to 5 minutes. Lower the speed to medium and add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until each is fully incorporated before adding the next.
3. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and baking powder into a medium bowl. Add the salt to the dry ingredients after sifting, and whisk dry ingredients. Alternate dry ingredients and buttermilk into creamed mixture, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Mix until just incorporated, or finish by hand gently. Fold mayonnaise into batter with a whisk, until just blended.
4. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. If possible, weigh the batter in each cake pan for 16 oz/1lb/454 g each (excluding the pans–you will want to tare the scale each time.) This ensures even layers. Smooth with small offset palette knife, and bake for about 30 minutes, rotating once after 20 minutes. Cake is done when toothpick or skewer comes barely clean. Try not to over-bake. I tend to under-bake a few moments, so the skewer is a little bit gummy. This works well for a moist chocolate cake (not vanilla). Let pans cool on wire rack for 20 minutes, then invert cakes onto racks, gently, peeling away parchment rounds. Let cool completely.
* Southern Devil’s Cake Recipe adapted from Fine Cooking, by David Guas. 

Just a note that you will need approximately 2 times the Swiss Meringue Buttercream recipe for this cake. Because it does take some time to make, I always make in batches of 3, because it freezes so well and saves time. A batch of 3 fits perfectly in a 5 QT KitchenAid mixer bowl. 

5 large egg whites (30g each–total 150g)
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons superfine granulated sugar
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, cut into cubes
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Pinch of salt 

1. Wipe the bowl of an electric mixer with paper towel and vinegar, to remove any trace of grease. Add egg whites and sugar, and simmer over a pot of water (not boiling), whisking constantly, until temperature reaches 140 degrees F, or if you don’t have a candy thermometer, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot.
2. With whisk attachment of mixer, begin to whip until the mixture is thick, glossy, and cool. Switch over to paddle attachment and, while mixing on medium speed continously, add softened butter in chunks until incorporated, and mix until it has reached a silky smooth texture (if curdles, keep mixing and it will come back to smooth). Add vanilla and salt, mix well. You can also add a wide variety of flavourings, extracts, and more. 

1. Keep in airtight container in refrigerator for up to one week, leaving out at room temperature when needed, rewhipping in mixer for 5 minutes.
2. Can freeze for up to 6-8 weeks. To thaw, place on counter overnight, and rewhip for 5 minutes with paddle attachment in an electric mixer.
3. Makes approximately 5 cups of buttercream.
4. For Chocolate Buttercream, add 150 g (3/4 cup) melted bittersweet Belgian chocolate (the best you can get–I use Callebaut) to Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream and beat until incorporated.
5. For Strawberry Buttercream, add strawberry puree to taste, OR a few drops of LorAnn Strawberry Flavor Oil.
*Recipe for Swiss Meringue Buttercream adapted from Martha Stewart

1. Split buttercream into 3, and flavour 1/3 chocolate and another 1/3 strawberry. Leave remaining buttercream vanilla.
2. Add a few drops of pink gel food colouring to strawberry buttercream
3. Trim any doming on your cake layers with a very sharp, serrated bread knife. Wrap layers in plastic wrap and chill for 15 minutes in freezer.
4. Spread a 1″ circle of icing onto an 8″ round thin cake board using an offset palette knife and place the first cake layer on top, face up.
5. Using a small offset palette knife, spread 1 cup of chocolate buttercream on top, leaving about a 1″ gap from edges.
6. Place second cake layer on top, face up, and repeat step 5, using Vanilla Buttercream.
7. Place final layer on top, face down and repeat step 5, using Strawberry Buttercream.
8. Fill 3 piping bags with remaining buttercreams fitted with Wilton 8B decorative tip, or the tip of your choice, decorate edges, filling in gaps.
9. Top with dark chocolate sprinkles.

Good luck & enjoy!

Cake Tutorial & Photography: Sweetapolita (fancy cakes & confections)

Real Baby Shower: Modern Boy

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The invitations AND matching printed pieces from this baby shower are SUPER C-U-T-E! Abbey of Abbey Malcolm Letterpress and Design is one talented graphic designer. She has tons of beautiful invitations and announcements on her site and I definitely recommend taking a peak. Kelly -- you are extremely lucky to have such wonderful sisters who can throw an absolutely gorgeous shower!

From Kelly... Lucky for me my sister is Abbey from the amazing Abbey Malcolm Letterpress and Design. She did all of the invitations, labels, and planning with the help from my twin sister, Jillian, to throw me a sprinkle for my sweet baby boy. For my sister and I, already with three little princesses between the two of us, weren't really sure what we were getting into with a boy to add to our group. I scoured the internet to find something cool, modern, and trendy for my little guy (I am just not into the traditional boats, trains, and planes.) So, we went with a color palette of a dark blue, white, orange and chocolate brown. With that in mind my sisters got to work. I was only allowed to know the date and location, and the rest was a surprise. The sprinkle was held at my sister Abbey's home, and my closest friends and family shared an afternoon with me. It was wonderful. 

All of the details made this small get together even more special. The favor was a cd full of lullabies from my childhood with a coordinating label. On the table next to where I opened my gifts was a framed picture of my ultrasound next to my favorite blue flowers, hydrangeas. I got some much needed boy clothing and toys since my house was covered in all things pink from my daughter two years prior. One of my favorite gifts is the custom birth announcement my sister designed to hang on the wall of the nursery which coordinated with my color scheme for the nursery and the sprinkle to remind me of that special day

Real Baby Shower: Camp/Owl Theme

What an adorable hand-crafted baby shower designed by Amanda from Namesake Designs! Loving the "Camp Baby Pack" garland on the fireplace as well as the purple and green hand-painted flower pots and wish tree. And... no baby shower is complete without matching cupcake toppers from Two Sugar Babies. Always a special treat!

From Amanda... I have been a busy little crafting bee preparing for my sister's baby shower, which I hosted this past Saturday. There's nothing like having 15 ladies over to motivate the completion of several house projects (more on that in a future post). I love to entertain and I had so much fun planning and decorating for my sister's shower. Lindsay is going with the Camp Baby Girl theme to decorate her nursery so I used the same theme as my inspiration for the shower.

It all started with the invitation. I actually created the invite in word and printed it on this paper from my favorite paper supplier, Paper Source. I selected these envelopes in Plum to add a bit of color to the ensemble.

Next, I moved on to the decor. To bring the outdoors in, I painted plain terracotta flower pots white with green and purple polka dots (same green and purple as the invite). I used the flower pots for flower arrangements, to hold party favors, and for a wish tree that took the place of a guest book. After the shower, I gave the pots to my sister to use to hold odds and ends in the nursery.

The wish tree was very easy to make. I used florist's foam to anchor the tree (a branch spray painted white) securely in one of the flower pots, then filled the pot with plaster of paris. I lined the bottom of pot with a couple of plastic grocery bags first to keep the wet plaster from leaking out drainage hole. I used these cards from Paper Source and simply punched small holes in them, and threaded the holes green and purple ribbon. Guests were encouraged to write wishes for the baby or words of wisdom/advice for Mommy. I figure my sister can display the tree in the nursery and when she needs more space remove tree and store the tags in a keepsake box.

I used more paper to make a banner to hang on the fireplace and carry the part theme into my living room. For this project I simply used a special paper cutter to cut circles out of scrap booking paper, used my computer to create letters which I printed on card stock and cut out, and strung it all together with ribbon. My sister loved the banner and plans to hang it over the baby's crib.

I like to cook, but one woman can only do so much. So I purposely kept the food simple. Instead of cake, I opted for cupcakes dressed up with little custom fondant toppers that I ordered from Two Sugar Babies. Aren't they the cutest! 
I even managed to incorporate the theme into my gift, a name portrait. Lindsay loved it and I think baby Natalie will love pointing out and naming the little woodland critters when she learns to talk.

Last but not least, before guests left they were each given a little bookmark as a favor. These were also created on my computer and used the same little owl graphic as the invitation. The bookmarks read,"Bookmark the blog to stay up to date and in the know about all things related to the arrival of Natalie Cecelia Pack.", and included the website for Natalie's baby blog.

For my next project, I'll be turning my attention to my baby girl's nursery. With her arrival only 6 weeks away I need to get moving!

Design & Photography: Namesake Designs / Cupcake Toppers: Two Sugar Babies

Baby Shower Idea: Old Fashioned Ice Cream Party

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Such a treat! Well... in this case, lots of treats from this AMAZING ice cream birthday party designed by the FABULOUS Victoria of A Subtle Revelry (used to be The City Cradle). She did a wonderful job turning this backyard into such a magical place! What a great idea for a girl baby shower or simply change up the colors for a boy. And... thanks again to Jackie Wonders for capturing every moment and detail for our viewing pleasure.

From Victoria... Sherbert & Spice and everything nice… This ice cream birthday was pure joy for me to produce. From the inspiration found here to the invitations found here- it was girlie, summer, old-fashioned fun at its best and I am just giddy to share a bit of it with you today.

We are starting with the Spice of the design, all those circles… A chandelier made entirely from hand cut felt circles was centered above the desert table and was one of the original inspirations for the Sherbert & Spice ice cream birthday. Once we started with the circles, it seems we couldn’t stop:) They began popping up all over the party making the entire backyard feel simply magical.

A bit of old fashion vintage charm peaked through many of our ice cream birthday design pieces. We washed and sanitized a bushel of very old coke bottles found at a local flee market to serve as glasses for the event. With bright straws sticking out they were a huge hit. The dessert bar featured custom popcorn cones, a cake with a chalkboard banner, and these vases of old fashioned candy.

The sherbert stand was truly a work of love! Made by the mom I was planning for- she hand drilled it all together and right in the middle of a major family move. The kids loved it and our chalkboard Sherbert sign signaled them over throughout the afternoon. On the sherbert stand we offered a variety of both ice cream sandwiches and ice cream birthday cones. The sandwiches were tied up neatly with custom ice cream birthday labels and tied off with string. We served up the sherbert toppings in a vintage model ferris wheel, each little basket holding a different yummy treat. You can download the labels for the ice cream sandwiches and cones by clicking here. Instructions: Simply print (there are multiple labels per page) and trim where necessary to fit your ice cream treats! Wrap around and tie with string.

The wall behind our sherbert stand was strung with homemade kites, DIY coming soon. They served as favors for each of the kids in attendance. To quench the after ice cream thirst we had stacks of custom labeled juice boxes set out along with fruit-lemonade for the adults. Inspired by this celebrity party, the custom juice labels seemed too lovely a detail to pass up. You can download these custom juice box labels to use at your own party by clicking here. Remember to take the straws off the boxes before covering them, you can reattach them with string or simply set them in a bowl nearby.

To ensure guests didn’t faint from all the sugar we set up a food table with a special carnival fare. Stacks of corn dogs curbed hunger and BBQ’d corn was finished off with fabric flag holders. The DIY for the fabric flags is here, I simple attached each flag to 2 toothpicks and stuck in the ends of the corn. The flags are a great stand in for those plastic hot corn grips. Wouldn’t they be lovely done as USA flags for an upcoming independence day celebration? A bite size vegetable spread was centered on our food table. Using baby versions of the veggies they fit snugly in small candy cups. Multiple dips were ready beside them for dipping.

Before our guests left for the day we gave them a little project. In lieu of a signing book we created a blank story time printable guest book. Each guest wrote in a part of the story for our birthday girl. They did a great job and from what I hear the book has been bound and is being very treasured by a certain four year old, DIY instructions for this cane be found here.

Our Sherbert & Spice theme was possibly the most enjoyable celebration I’ve done. The details would translate well to many other summer-time parties- really anytime you give a group of kids melting ice cream & games it is a success!

Design: Victoria of A Subtle Revelry / Photography: Jackie Wonders