Saturday, August 21, 2010

Tom & Huck - Part IIII {Favors & Activities}

Last one. I swear.

The whole concept for the party was derived from one source - Mark Twain's brilliant books. So what else do you give as favors? Each family took home a hardback copy of the Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Reading is a big deal to me and the hubs. We're book worms. We've spawned book worms. Eating the cover off The Hungry Caterpillar constitutes a book worm, right? I'm sure it does.

I really wanted our little guests to be interested in the stories of Tom and Huck. My wish was that they'd leave the party and beg their parents that night to start the books at bedtime. I doubt any of them did, but if I sparked even the slightest curiosity in Twain's two boys, I will be happy.

To help with my goal, I hired a local actor to come dressed as Mark Twain and give the kids an overview of his famous stories. He had them act out a few scenes and place paper characters on a drawing of Huck's raft.

I think they enjoyed the storytime.

They actually sat through it.

We also had crafts. Wooden alligators and fish for them to paint.

I'll be honest. I didn't think the boys would be into it. They were. I was shocked. But what do I know.

And the grand finale...


The adults ran. I'm not even kidding.

The idea was to have animals Tom & Huck would've co-mingled with near the river. And the kids loved them.

Oh. And there was a rope swing.

No one broke an arm. Or a leg. Victory!

Lastly, I wanted a way to incorporate pictures of the boys through their first year into the party. I was stumped. Didn't want to use frames. Would've needed too many. My girlfriend, Kim, came up with the idea of hanging them from cane poles. Brilliant!

My sister and my girlfriend, Christine, labored hard on the two they made. Can't thank them enough. Loved them!

I need to thank some folks for helping me. It's taken a village to get the boys to their first birthday. Alive and breathing. And it took a village to pull this party off.

I'd like to first thank The Academy.

Oh wait. Wrong speech.

Ok, I'd like to first thank my husband. He didn't ask questions. He diverted his eyes when he passed the dining room, which by the end was packed to the gills with party things. He pretended not to hear me talking to my mother about the details. And the purchases. He didn't mind. He loves our boys, too. And me. And so he just helped set the party up and he had a good time. God bless him.

And my mother. God bless her, too. I think I pushed her to the limits of her craftiness. She rocked it though!

And my sister and girlfriends, who did help with the execution of the party, but more importantly listened, for weeks, as I went on and on and on about the party. Bless their hearts. They're true friends.

But I know they're glad it's over.

And my mother-in-law, who washed more dishes than any mother-in-law should agree to do.

I loved this party. I love Kate Landers for all her help. Wouldn't have happened without her.

Hey Kate! What are we doing next year??

Yes, these are still Inga's images.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Tom & Huck - Part III {Dessert Table}

Dessert tables are all the rage now. And I'm in. I just love them. Amy Atlas is queen of the dessert table. For a reason. She does amazing things.

Kate brilliantly thought up the idea of a "pie" cake. A cake that looks like a pie. But it isn't. It's a cake. Got it?

At first I wasn't so sure. Seemed a bit too adult-like for a 1st birthday party. Shouldn't they have something cute and fun and little boyish? Well, yes, I thought. They should. And they did.

Enter the smash cake.

Whoever invented the smash cake idea was genius.

The boys' smash cakes were rafts, like Huck's. They were precious. And apparently they were mighty tasty. Are these looks of total and complete sugar comas or what?

Back to the pie cake.

It was a huckleberry pie. Of course. And it was AH-mazing!

I added mini pies to the table. Cherry, the hub's favorite, and apple. Because, well, it's all-American and I'm certain Tom & Huck ate apple pie. Right?

We threw in some cookies they more than likely loved - oatmeal raisin, peanut butter and sugar.

Alright. I more than likely love. Whatever. This is my party.

Then there was the candy. I was somewhat particular about the candy I added to the table. I wanted only candies that Mr. Olsen might have sold in his General Store on Little House on the Prairie. I did some research.

Seriously. I did!

Peppermint sticks, peanut butter sticks, lemon drops, peanut brittle and salt water taffy. Just so happens we vacationed near Chattanooga a few weeks before the party. We found ourselves in a little town called Chickamauga, Georgia. And they had a general store. With candy.


They had all the candies I was looking for plus a bonus. Lollipops. And not just regular 'ol lollipops. The coolest ones ever.

And now the pièce de résistance. The handmade burlap banner.

I have to give full and proper credit to two women - Nole over at Oh So Beautiful Paper for introducing me to these incredible creations and Amanda of Funkyshique for this gorgeousness.

Amanda handpainted the silhouette on the pennant between Happy and Birthday. She blew me away!

I want to hang this in their nursery year round. It pained me to wrap it oh-so-carefully back in the tissue paper and pack it away.

But it was the star of the dessert buffet.

Friendly reminder that all photo credit goes to Inga Finch Photography.

Tom & Huck - Part II {Food} My favorite subject.

Now the great question was, what did Tom & Huck eat?

With the party starting at 10am, Kate & I felt we needed food that fell in the always elusive category of brunch. Fish was obvious. They boys lived on and near the great river. Fried chicken was obvious. Because...I said so. :-)

Cheese grits go so well with fried fish. And fried chicken. And everything else frankly. And we eat them in the morning. Or the afternoon. Ok, I'll stop.

And potatoes. With cheese. If loving cheese is wrong, I don't want to be right.

And I assumed like all good country boys, Tom & Huck ate eggs. But since scrambled eggs don't keep so well, I decided on a quiche. Which was also a good vehicle for the breakfast meats - bacon and ham.

Then there were biscuits. With butter. Lots of it. I found huckleberry jam and honey from some nice people in Montana. I also served strawberry preserves, my personal favorite, and Tupelo honey. Get it? Tupelo. Mississippi. The river. Ok, moving on...

Lastly, since I was filling their children with fried and cheesy foods, not to mention a dessert table with enough sugar to last a lifetime, I felt I owed it to my friends to offer something healthy. Fruit kabobs. I'm thoughtful that way {grin}.

For beverages, I went simple. Lemonade. Milk. Chocolate milk. Sweet tea. Oh, and lemonade with vodka and beer. No, not the for the children. For the adults who were braving the sweltering heat of mid-July in the Deep South. They showed up. They deserved a cocktail.

I love mason jars.

That's all.

For the adults...

For the kids...who aren't quite big enough for a big jar, but who are definitely too big for a sippie cup.

And for the babies...I found a lovely lady on Etsy who made these burlap sippies. Just for me.

And I ordered paper straws. Seemed appropriate, no?

Because the books were the inspiration, I decided to name the food and drink items after characters. Here's the list:

Aunt Polly's Sunday Fried Chicken
Big Jim's Catch o' the Day
Becky's Prim & Proper Cheese Grits
Judge Thatcher's Fancy Potatoes
The Dauphin & The Duke's Faux Recette de Quiche de la Famille
Widow Douglas's Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits
Little Sid's Fruit on a Stick
Sweet Cuzin Mary's Lemonade
Pap's Moonshine Lemonade

And I found the log place card holders here. Yes, Etsy again. I adore it.


Again, all image credit goes to Inga Finch Photography.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Tom Sawyer & Huck Finn 1st Birthday Party {Decor}

As promised, here are the photos from the boys' first birthday party. I'm going to break these up by category for fear, and my head, may explode if I try and do it all at once.

Let's start with the invitation and decor.

When I found out I was expecting twin boys, I immediately started to think about the nursery and what I would do with it. I knew I wanted it to be a fishing theme, since my husband loves to fish and couldn't stop talking about all the trips he and his boys would be making on the new bass boat he suddenly needed to own. Steve is from the Midwest and I'm a very proud Southerner, so as I started to think about the theme, and the different elements I wanted to incorporate in it, the Mississippi River sprung to mind and then naturally....Mark Twain and his 2 famous boys...Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. It was perfect! Two mischievous boys who love to fish on the great river that connects my part of the country to my husband's. Nothing could be a better fit. I started looking for fabric and literally stumbled on TS/HF fabric on EBay. It was fantastic! And it served as my inspiration for the nursery.

Fast forward a year and the boys' first birthday was quickly approaching. I had always wanted to carry the TS/HF theme into their birthday parties - esp their 1st - but I just couldn't get started. I am event planner, this is what I do, but I was stumped. I needed some inspiration and I just couldn't find it. So I decided to put the theme off and go with something I could do easily - a circus. It was almost too easy. And I wasn't thrilled about it at all. I like new and innovative ideas and a circus theme just wasn't working for me. I knew it would be ridiculously cute, but it wouldn't have the same oomph a TS/HF party would.

I found Kate Landers online during one of my Google searches for children parties. I fell head over heels for her work. The Madeleine party almost made me wish for a girl. It was gorgeous. I started following Kate on Twitter. And then one day she announced she was giving a couture party away. It occurred to me that if anyone could spark my imagination, she could. I entered and won. I was super excited to work with her.

The theme is tough and a little daunting, but Kate dove right in. She even watched the original movies. As her ideas started to come in, I was not just sparked, I was lit up! Just as I was hoping, Kate's ideas were incredibly creative and they served as just the right inspiration I needed to make this party unique and one-of-a-kind. I spent the next month pulling it all together, working with some incredible vendors and taking advantage of family vacation locales to look for the perfect elements. To my great excitement, I found more of the TS/HF fabric I had fallen in love with and used in the nursery! I couldn't believe it. And once more, it was in a different color scheme - green, brown, cream and red - my exact colors for the party! I knew then we could pull this off. Things were falling together so perfectly!

I wanted every detail of this party to be theme-appropriate. A major pet-peeve of mine is having a theme and it not be carried throughout the event. So I was determined that everything from the invitations to the food to the activities and all in between relate back to TS & HF.

After an exhaustive search for burlap invitations, I came to the conclusion that I was just going to have to make them myself. Nole, of the Oh So Beautiful Paper blog, suggested I stitch burlap to card stock. Great idea! Except for one small issue - I don't sew and I don't own a sewing machine.

So I had to come up with Plan B.

Wood was going to be a major element in the party given Huck's raft, so I decided to glue burlap to thin pieces of balsa wood and attach the printed invitation to it. Kate found the fishing silhouette, but it was originally a single boy, so I had a graphic designer create the mirror image motif to reflect the twins. With Kate's help, the wording was taken care of and I found a great font online. The paper was found at Michael's and a local printer printed them for me.

Inspired by Kate's to-die-for Woodland Fairy party, I wanted the buffet table to mimic a riverbank. I used a chocolate linen to represent the muddy waters of the Mississippi and a burlap topper to represent the sand. We filled the table with grass and cattail arrangements my mother made and river rocks. I found a catfish, bass and bullfrog stuffed animals at Bass Pro Shops that I thought would give the table a whimsical feel. This is a party for little boys, after all! I found all of the old serving pieces in an antique store in Chickamauga, GA, a small town outside Chattanooga, TN, where we vacationed this summer.

For beverages, we served lemonade, milk, chocolate milk, sweet tea, lemonade & vodka and beer.

I really wasn't enthralled with the idea of tables and chairs. Seemed boring to me, almost too practical. I had used hay bales at past events and loved the look. I knew it fit perfectly and I came up with the concept of a "hay couch". Would give people a place to sit and set their drinks down, plus they'd be low to the ground for the kids. It also gave me a great palette with which to use the glorious fabric! I also found all the old blue Ball jars, lanterns and jugs in the antique stores of Chickamauga and Ellijay, GA, another stop on the family vacation.

The dessert table was a blast to put together! Inspired by my inquiry about burlap invitations, Nole blogged about other burlap items she'd come across and loved. One was custom burlap pennant banners. I fell head over heels in love. I contacted the artist through her Etsy shop and she was able to make a banner for the boys AND she handpainted the silhouette onto a pennant, as well. It turned out beautifully! More to come on the dessert table.

I think it deserves it's own post. Don't you?

All photo credit goes to Inga Finch of Inga Finch Photography.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

And then they turned 1...

The boys have turned one. I'm still reeling from that little nugget of information. Where the heck did the year go? Every day seemed so long. Like it would never end. And then I turn around and 365 days have passed. I can only shake my head and marvel at Father Time. He's a sneaky old man.

I can still remember those first few weeks. See and feel them when I close my eyes (if I don't fall asleep). I didn't have a care in the world other than the boys. Every minute of every day was consumed by them. The world seemed to stop and we were in a Twilight Zone of happiness...and shear exhaustion. It was glorious!

I miss those early days. Desperately at times.

All that mattered was whether they were sleeping, were fed, changed or swaddled. It was a simple time.

It's a miracle I can remember anything. A lot I can't, actually. Between the sleep deprivation and pain meds, some of it no longer exists in my mind. God is smart that way. It's how He tricks us into doing it more than once.

Well, not me. You maybe, but not me. We're done.

But I digress...

Now we're on to major changes.

Teething...Lord, help me. My firstborn hasn't met a teething symptom he doesn't love. They had him at hello in his 4th month and 8 months later, we're still getting acquainted. I'm ready for the love story to end. His brother, on the other hand, could have a mouth full and you wouldn't know it.

Walking...real people more bottles...whole milk...etc etc etc.

I'd like the train to slow down some. I'm feeling a little motion sickness. We're going too fast.

But we're here and so we celebrate. With a party, of course. That's a story for another post. Just think Tom Sawyer & Huck Finn. More on that coming soon!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Home alone...sort of

I'm a bachelorette with baggage this week. And because I'm not responsible for making dinner for the hubs, I didn't grocery shop. So I forgot to feed myself. Oops.

Last night I scrounged together a grilled ham and cheese sandwich.

And wine. Of course. We always have that.

Today, buying something for dinner was at the top of my To Do list. You notice I said buy something for dinner. Not grocery shop. I'm not cooking this week.

Except for the little vultures. Them I will cook for. In the oppressive, and I mean oppressive, heat. Moms do that. We're selfless.

No, today I was on my game. I knew exactly what I wanted and I REMEMBERED IT! This, folks, is huge since I left the house in my yard shoes and sans makeup.

That happened because when the babysitter arrives, I flee. FLEE. As if I will forever be stuck in my house if I don't meet her at the door. So I run. Sometimes literally. But I had my trusty To Do list! And it reminded me to go directly to Tomatoland. Will be adding "Put on real shoes" and "Put on makeup" to the list. Showering is #1 already. Although I confess I sometimes skip that one.

Now those of you unfortunate enough not to live where I do and have a Tomatoland, you should know it's a little slice of heaven on earth. They make chicken and dumplins as good as my Granny's. It's ok! She knows. I asked Jesus to tell her. Who could be a better (and more safe) messenger than Him?!

Sadly, they didn't have chicken and dumplins today. But they did have chicken tettrazini. And peach cobbler.

I might "forget" to grocery shop again soon.

Like tomorrow.

Don't judge. You'd have licked the plate, too.

45 years ago...

...God brought my future husband into the world.

Thank you, Lord.

Happy birthday, darlin'!

More always.