Category Archives: Entertain

Sweet and Simple Birthday Party

My daughter turned 1 a few months ago. I knew that I wanted to make her first birthday special, but wanted to keep it simple so I could focus on her big day and not be overwhelmed with all of the details.  I ordered a few wonderful decorations on etsy and kept the menu easy with food that both adults and kids would love.

invitationInvitation from Penelope and Lala.

buffetI set up a simple buffet table and added little gold flags and bunting.  The rag garland was also a beautiful touch and stayed hung in my living room for weeks after the party.  Rag garland and flags also from Penelope and Lala.

buffet close2We served a variety of muffins, pigs in a blanket, bacon and broccoli quiche, apricot and cheese crescent bites, and a salad topped with barley and roasted sweet potatoes (elin’s favorite).

cake and smash cakeWe served caramel cake with salted caramel icing along with a mini smash cake for Miss Elin.

sweet birthday girlThe birthday girl looked adorable in her party outfit!  (Shirt from B. Swanky and bloomers from Bloomin Bloomers)

yay cake!Everyone had a blast and Elin especially loved her first taste of cake.

the aftermathHappy Birthday Sweet Elin!  We love you so much!

anne

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Wisconsin Sports Awards: Modern Sports Dessert Table

Last week, I had the absolute pleasure of hosting the dessert bar at the Wisconsin Sports Awards at the Harley-Davidson Museum. A celebration of Wisconsin high school, collegiate and professional athletes, the Wisconsin Sports Awards boasts big names from Aaron Rodgers to Ryan Braun.

Working again with the wonderful Kate of Milwaukee’s The Home Market, we put together an enormous dessert spread including treats from Milwaukee Cupcake Company, Goodie Gourmets of Shorewood, WI, Simma’s Bakery in Wauwatosa and a few homemade treats put together and brought up from Chicago by my mom!

WSA dessert tableUsing a modern sports theme, we put together a spread of cupcakes, gourmet popcorn, signature cookies, sports candy, little “macs,” sports themed chocolate covered strawberries, chocolate covered pretzels and more. Black and white stripes with small bursts of chartreuse decorated the table to serve the almost 600 guests.

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sports strawberries

Wisconsin Sports Award

sports popcorn holders

We served lemonade and caramel corn with pecans from Goodie Gourmets in Shorewood. The popcorn was a huge hit with all of the guests and the first thing to run out!

milwaukee cupcake wsa

little macs

sports themed candy bar

simma's goodies

sports cookies

Modern Sports Dessert Bar

Not only were the desserts delectable, but the room transformed from warehouse to a swanky modern soiree by the hands of Kate. The same color scheme was dispersed throughout the room with breath-taking modern touches including lamp bases filled with orchids and water and sleek couches and chairs.

WSA stage

orchid lamp

WSA

Wisconsin Sports Awards 2013It was a wonderful experience and a great time hobnobbing with the athletes! A special thanks to all of the amazing vendors for their fantastic treats!

stef

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Candy Land Birthday Party

My game-obsessed toddler just turned three! To celebrate, we decided to pay homage to his favorite game, Candy Land, at our most-loved local frozen yogurt place, Yo Mama. I wanted to keep it simple but just add a few tiny touches to make the day extra special.

All his pint-sized friends were sent a Candy Land themed invitation. I designed this with inspiration from the game board and the story of Candy Land included in the box (which Lincoln asks us to read almost every day). This invitation is available in my Etsy shop, Morning Star Designs, as a printable file.

Candy Land InvitationEach Lord and Princess of Candy Land was designated a cupcake by King Lincoln. Our King donned a special crown to celebrate the occasion.

candy land cupcake

candy land king cupcake

Guests dined at tables with different candy buckets representing the various stops along the way to the Candy Castle, including Gummy Pass, Licorice Lagoon and Lollipop Forest. They were all allowed to snack on the centerpieces and bring some home at the conclusion of the party.

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licorice lagoonBefore filling up their yogurt cups with whatever they wanted, they colored pictures to hang on the special Yo Mama art gallery wall.

candy land coloring

Finally, all the mini guests were treated to homemade play dough with special cookie cutters as a parting gift.

candy land play dough

rainbow playdoughWishing King Lincoln the happiest of third birthdays! May you always find your way to the Candy Castle…

third birthday

stef

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Earl Grey Creme Tea Cookies

I recently helped host a bridal shower for a dear friend at Anaba Tea Room, a local tea room/restaurant plus home and garden boutique. Considering the location, we continued a “tea in the garden” theme throughout the shower including these delicate tea cookies that I made as shower favors.

Using a Martha Stewart recipe that I’d been wanting to try for awhile, I incorporated my favorite black tea, Earl Grey Creme, which has an amazing aroma and subtle vanilla undertones. The results were spot on for an elegant afternoon event.

Earl Grey Creme Tea Cookies
1 C butter
2 C flour
1/2 C powdered sugar
1/2 tsp fine salt
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 Tbsp finely ground Earl Grey Creme black tea leaves

Preheat oven to 350. Use a spice grinder or coffee grinder to grind tea leaves into a fine powder.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt and ground tea with a whisk to fluff. In a separate large bowl, beat together butter and powdered sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Gradually beat in dry mixture, taking care to scrap dough from the sides of the bowl, until all dry ingredients have been incorporated but mixture is still solid and not beaten to the point of crumbling.

Divide dough into two balls and set on two pieces of parchment paper.  Roll dough into a long tubular shape using the parchment paper. Reposition dough tube on the parchment, rolling it tightly and tucking the ends under. Freeze dough for 30-45 minutes.

Remove dough from freezer and unwrap from parchment, placing parchment on a baking sheet. Slice dough into 1/4″ slices and place on cookie sheet. If cookies are slightly misshapen you can let the cookies sit for 10-15 minutes so that dough thaws enough for you to gently reshape the cookies.

Bake for 13 minutes.

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Bug Themed First Birthday Party

So my little bug turned one last weekend!  Where did the year go?  I feel like I was just posting about our brand new baby and now he’s quite the active little boy.  But enough of the sappy mom syndrome and onto the party.  We decided to keep things on the simpler side and had a small casual bug-themed BBQ for our families.

The mantel was cute-ified with a Very Hungry Caterpillar banner created by Will’s particularly crafty grandma.

very hungry caterpillar birthday banner

Guests young and old got into the spirit of things with fake spider rings.

Colorful bowls of candied watermelons and neon gummy worms were set about for nibbling as guests chatted. 

We paired grass green silverware with bright green plates to add color to the table and decorated cheap IKEA vases with little felt ladybugs purchased at a craft store.

Guests snacked on carrots and potato chips with “bug dip”, which was inspired by Taste of Home, while plastic bugs adorned the various serving platters.

Watermelon, baked beans and butterfly pesto pasta salad accompanied platters of homemade burgers and brats.
butterfly pesto pasta

We made picnic ant cupcakes, inspired by the Hostess with the Mostess, to match the piece de resistance – Will’s mini vanilla bean birthday cake. I’ll post more details about the mini cake soon!
bug theme birthday cupcakes
bug birthday cake

The birthday boy was quite the ham and had a grand time playing in his caterpillar shirt made by NaptimeCraftMommy.
hungry caterpillar birthday shirt

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{Inspired by} Peacocks

As far as birds go, it does not get any fancier than a peacock. It is no wonder these birds can reel in the ladies, bringing in several at one time with one swift spread of the feathers. I know I am not alone by being drawn into the iridescent array of colorful feathers of these beautiful creatures. I’ve been to a few events recently that have been peacock-inspired with beautiful blues and greens sprinkled throughout the room.

This past weekend, I attended a pre-wedding celebration bridal shower for my friend Jen. Being a bird-lover, she had a peacock themed shower with peacock invitations and a few peacock touches. As a bridesmaid, I wanted to help add an extra special touch to the day, so I created peacock name tags to hang from the water glasses and a few peacock colored tissue poms that rested on the mantle.

A little over a year ago, my dear friend Doug married his lovely bride Stacy and hosted one of the most beautiful wedding receptions I’ve ever attended. Peacock inspiration was everywhere from the flower girl to the name cards. It was elegant and sophisticated with a modern flare. To start out the peacock theme, I designed their wedding save-the-date with a little peacock touch. (You can find this design in my Etsy shop, Morning Star Designs).

A special shout out to Robb Davidson Photography for the photos from Doug and Stacy’s wedding. If you live in the Chicagoland area and are looking for a fabulous and inspired photographer, check out Robb. He is great!

If you have any peacock-themed events you’ve experienced, we’d love for you to share a link!

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Lovely Little Lady Baby Celebration

Maybe it is the second child in me, but I feel like every baby deserves a celebration. So when we found out our very own Anne was expecting her second little girl this spring, we just had to throw a little soiree. We called this a baby celebration, rather than a shower. We gathered on a Sunday afternoon for some sweet treats and hot drinks in celebration of the newest lovely little lady!

Guests were invited with the bunting flag invites which set the scene for the pink sweets table (for sale in my Etsy shop here!).

 

We set up a sweets table in the basement that included thumbprint cookies, cherry chip cookies, fruit and fluff dip and a snickerdoodle cake. Little pink touches were added throughout with plates, napkins, ribbons and flowers. Homemade pink and white tissue pom poms hung from the ceiling. Guests were also treated to a hot chocolate & coffee bar with lots of fun mix-ins, including Bailey’s Irish Cream, Kahlua, Amaretto liquor, vanilla syrup, infused whipped creams, and hand-dipped marshmallows.

A Snickerdoodle Cake with Brown Sugar Buttercream was served. It was topped with a little bunting flag printed on scrapbook paper, threaded and tied to bamboo skewers. The recipe for the cake can be found on Foodie with Family.

We had a great time chatting, eating, drinking and celebrating the upcoming birth of what we know we will be a lovely little lady! February was quite the month for parties and I was thrilled to end the month on such a bright cheery note! We wish Anne and her family the very best as they anticipate the arrival of baby number two!

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Filed under Baby Shower, Decorate, DIY, Entertain, Treats

Breakfast at Tiffany’s Party

My niece Mallory recently celebrated her second birthday and her party was too sweet not to share! What girl, big or little, can resist dress up and fancy things?  This theme works great for a little girl’s birthday or for a wedding shower or adult birthday. Nothing wrong with teaching them young how fabulous that little blue box can be, right?

Guests were invited by an imitation little blue box with the words Mallory & Co. written across the front. The back read “Breakfast at Mallory’s” across the back along with the invitation details. (These invites are available for sale as a personalized PDF file at my Etsy shop, Morning Star Designs).

The house was filled with lovely blue touches, from the homemade tissue poms to the placemats to the balloons.

Tiny guests were given their party favors upon entrance to the party. This party was just for mommies and girls (minus Lincoln) so necklaces, bracelets and sunglasses were passed along for some dress up.

A beautiful Tiffany-inspired cake adorned the table. A breakfast of blueberry french toast, tomato egg strata and donuts was served. Along with mimosas for the mommies and blue juice for the kids.

Little fancy touches of pearls and china were strewn throughout the house. Simple and elegant!

I had a little fun with Photoshop and put Mallory’s face on the Breakfast at Tiffany’s movie poster, and changed the words to Breakfast at Mallory’s. It was a huge hit!

The birthday girl was beaming as we all sang happy birthday and blew out the candle like an old pro. Mallory wore a shirt designed by Lois Jean Linens, complete with an embroidered pearl necklace and a little black ruffle at the bottom.

Mallory and Sir Lincoln had a blast partying together! Happy Birthday to my darling niece!

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Donut Shop Birthday Party

My son is a donut-aholic. He comes by it honestly. I’ve been obsessed with the little O-shaped treats since I had teeth. So when it came to throwing Lincoln his two-year-old birthday party this year, a donut party was the perfect choice. Lincoln was so excited for his birthday party, he could barely stand it. I originally planned on putting a candle in a donut, but he kept talking about birthday cake all week before his party. This Mommy could not disappoint her big boy…so a cake he got (in the shape of a donut)!

A donut-shaped invitation was sent to all of the guests. With the back reading “Time to Eat the Donuts!”

A Lincoln’s Donut Shop sign hung above the breakfast buffet. Since Lincoln’s always happiest in the morning, brunch seemed like the perfect idea. Donuts from my favorite hometown Cumberland Bakery in Des Plaines, IL were served along with homemade baked apple cider donuts. Also on the menu: overnight blueberry french toast, balsamic asparagus and red pepper mini frittatas, bacon and cheddar mini frittatas, honey poppyseed fruit salad and little sausages.

Oberweiss chocolate milk decorated with the donut logo was served in little milk jugs with blue and white paper straws.

We used Lincoln’s Melissa and Doug wooden donut set to hold the silverware and napkins and the food tags.

I baked 2 round “Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Cakes” and iced them with vanilla buttercream. I used a biscuit cutter to cut the middle out of the cakes to create the donut shape. The cake was topped with colorful sprinkles and a 2 candle. After a round of Happy Birthday, Lincoln replied “very, very good singing guys.”

It may have been a kid’s party, but adult bevis were served. Bloody Marys and Beermosas (Belgian White Ale and Orange Juice) were sipped using the blue and white paper straws.

The birthday boy wore a personalized donut shirt given by his aunt and Godmother from Lois Jean Linens. All in all the day was a big success! Cheers to another great year!

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Buffalo Mac ‘n Cheese

Tired of the same old dishes for your Superbowl party? Make this play off the ever so popular chicken wing and wow your guests with something familiar in flavor but new in style!

This Buffalo Mac ‘n Cheese blends all the flavors you love from your favorite Super Bowl treat into the perfect comfort food. With its spicy touch of hot sauce and pepper jack and its crunchy cracker crust, this mac ‘n cheese is the right blend of creamy texture and sharp taste. The addition of cheese cracker crust, paired with the spicy sauce and cheese mocks the taste of a crispy chicken wing. This Wisconsin-style meal tastes great with a cold glass of ale, or two!

Buffalo Mac ‘n Cheese
Servings: 2 cups, Yield: 6-8 servings

Ingredients
1 lb cellentani or cavatappi noodles
2 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 C rotisserie chicken, shredded
2 stalks celery, diced
1 small yellow onion, diced
½ tsp garlic salt
¼ tsp ground black pepper
1/3 C Buffalo-style Hot Sauce (I use Franks)
2 C 2% milk
1 ½ C half and half
6 TBSP butter
½ C flour
2 C Mexican blend shredded cheese
3 C pepper jack cheese, shredded
2 C store-bought baked cheese crackers (like Cheez-Its)
¼ C blue cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and boil for 12 minutes.

In a skillet, heat olive oil. Add celery, onion, garlic salt and pepper and cook until softened. About 5 minutes. Add chicken, mix thoroughly. Add hot sauce and simmer on low heat until heated through.

In a small saucepan, heat milk and half and half on medium heat. Stir occasionally, do not burn. In a large saucepan, melt butter. Slowly add flour and whisk to form thick roux. Slowly add warm milk mixture, whisking continuously. Continue to whisk mixture and slowly add cheese until cheese is melted and sauce is thick.

In 9×13 casserole dish, layer noodles, chicken mixture and cheese sauce. Mix thoroughly.

Add cheese crackers to food processor and pulse until small crumbs are formed. Sprinkle blue cheese and cracker mixture on top of noodles. Bake at 375 for 30-35 minutes, until bubbly crust forms around the outside. Allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.

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