Sunday, May 30, 2010

A bean turns one.

Well, we did it. Despite three nights of really bad sleep (thank you, baby), we rallied and celebrated Stella's first birthday. The weather was perfect, the dress fit the baby, the buttercream was a hit...yep, big success all around.

I spent some time leading up to the party getting everything ready. The dress was finished way in advance. I made some vintage sheet bunting and got my freezer paper stencil on. The banner says "Stella is" and then there is space for two more flags. I made numbers so that I can just pin them on each year as she grows. I also made a little star for the next nine years...a space saver until she reaches double digits. I made a ton of the number flags because I got a little superstitious-y and needed to make enough so that she can live past 100 if she so chooses. So there are two of every number (waaaaay past 100 if she so chooses). I also made two more strands of bunting because I kept ending up with leftover fabric and so I just cut smaller and smaller triangles. I don't have a picture of the tiniest sized flags (which are only about 1.5 inches long), but here are the mediums. So sweet and fun to have different sizes to hang around the house. If the party ends up in a few different spaces, it's nice to have some simple decorations to tie it all together.

I also made some tissue paper blooms with the piles and piles of tissue paper that I hoard. It was fantastic to use up a bunch of the paper and a bit scary that I had enough to make 7 of these big boys. I checked out Martha's instructions, but used even more layers. Yes, I had that much tissue paper on hand. I used those trash bag wire twisty thingees (another random thing that doesn't often get thrown out in this house) instead of floral wire and just a little thread for hanging. Easy-peasy. And I was all ready to take my big girl pill and toss them after the party, but I discovered that they are actually very easy to refold. So we'll see these decorations again next year, which is a good thing because they were really very cheerful.

The party favors were a big hit. Lovely star wands from a lovely seller on etsy.
And speaking of non-toxic toys made by actual real people I can email, what is the deal with that evil CPSIA thing? I hope it's died a horrible death because I have found some of the most lovely, safe handmade toys on etsy.
Because not everyone wanted to go home with a magic star wand, I also made sugar cookies and decorated them with royal icing. Except for the fact that I got a little ambitious with my piping and may have sent my right hand into early arthritis, decorating with royal icing is the most. fun. ever. I made a star, an s, and a 1 cookie for each bag and tied it off with some plantable tags from here.I got a lot of compliments on the cake I made. It was the chocolate cake recipe from epicurious that came with that buttercream recipe. I had a mini-freak out moment this morning when the buttercream started behaving oddly. I'd made it a few days in advance and it looked lovely. This morning I took it out of the fridge to warm up a bit but when I whipped it up, it started separating and looking blotchy and ugly. I was nervous to overbeat it, and I thought I might have just messed something up and (I'll admit it) briefly lost hope. With my Dad's nudging, I took a deep breath and whipped the frick out of it in the stand mixer and before long it went back to being fluffy and lovely. Despite the fact that buttercream might look like a little bit of a pain to make, I must say it was worth the effort (it wasn't really that hard), it was so great to be able to make it way ahead, and in the end it was easy to kick around a bit. I say it's the best use of a pound of butter that I've seen in a long time.

The cake was a really nice chocolate cake -- very moist and lovely and I just followed the recipe exactly. I did use slightly smaller pans so I made three layers instead of two, and I filled the layers with raspberry preserves rather than buttercream. I used some leftover royal icing from the cookies for decoration (oh, and I stuck the cookies on mostly because I thought it was a good solution to use one of the stars that had lost a point).
So that's about it. Good food, good friends, and enough pre-planning to make the party day easy and fun. It took me a long time to decide to have a kid and there have been so many steps along the way this year that have made me so thankful that we took the leap and had Bean. As I was putting together this party and having fun with all of the little details I realized that this is probably the most excited I've been for a party I've planned and that as she gets older and actually understands what it's all about, it's going to be even more fun. I can't wait for her to be able to pick a theme and then run with it. I hope that, just once, she lets me get away with doing the farm theme. Hello?! We've got the chicken part down! But truthfully, as long as we can stay away from any kind of a Disney theme, I'll be happy...

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