Monday, October 31, 2011

Bottle Pop Parties: Under the Sea

I don't think I could have asked for a better client that this one. The process started with me providing a list of 7 or 8 themes and after a lot of discussion, according to the client, the birthay girl chose an Under the Sea theme. The only thing she demanded was that she have Nemo on her cake.  Other than that, I was free to run wild. Now you might think run wild means an unlimited budget and live goldfish party favors...it doesn't. It meant that since she was one of my very first bigger clients that I was stretching every dollar to get as many cool things done that I could. And I know the client, she isn't in to completely over the top stuff that really has no purpose. So I tried not to go overboard and just focused on a few areas. So without further ado...

Under the Sea!
I was pretty proud of my backdrop here. I begged the party store clerk to sell me these 5" balloons since they don't normally sell them. Therefore I had a limited number so balloon safety was a major concern. MAH JOR. Luckily everything stayed where it was supposed to.  And although some faulty measurements and backlit background doesn't make for the picture-perfect version I had in my head, I'm pretty sure the general public couldn't care less. Look! Bubbles!

Note to self: Find out about 18 foot ceilings (approx) before planning hanging decor. Because you will have to scramble to make it work. It's all worth it though to see that little birthday girl's face! She's gorge.
So back to Nemo. I have to admit, I didn't really want full on Disney Nemo happening on the cake, ya know? So when I found the paper printables, which you'll see below, and I thought they were adorable, I emailed Katie Gumerson Design & Decor to see if she could whip up a matching set of fondant cake toppers. Man, I wish I had this talent. They matched exactly and were so freakin cute. I also asked her to make a "Nemo" to match the rest of the oceanic crew. And she succeeded. Birthday girl was convinced and this theme-loving girl was happy.
See? Aren't these little creatures cute? I'm normally not one to pick some party printables and pepper the whole party with them. Or use so much alliteration. But I liked these and since I printed them myself, it was cheap. So I crafted up a slew of adorable party hats and noisemakers. Which actually got used. So that's nice. What didn't get used? The jello aquarium.  I made individual ones for the dessert table and a big one for the table.  But for some reason the big one didn't set and I realized it didn't even matter, ya know?
And just to make things crystal clear, most ideas were found on Pinterest. And thanks to my girls on Facebook for reminding me what a sea urchin is.  See, you can Like my page on FB and help me with my burning questions. While you're liking things, feel free to boost my ego by liking Bottle Pop's FB page too. Could I have any more FB pages going? Geeeeez.

You know what ruled about my client? I proposed a menu with cutesy names that included peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on the new fish-shaped bread, pasta salad, crab dip, seafood chowder, etc. And she made her husband a grocery list and off he went. She was into all of my ideas! It was awesome!
I had originally planned to hang the fishing nets from the sun room ceiling and fill it with balloons but once I realized the angled ceilings were sky-high, that plan went out the window. So I did it in the family room, along with a little mantle decoration. So basically I took a deep breath and realized that this looked just fine too.
And finally, the favors. I filled a little bag with gummy lifesavers and swedish fish and called it a day on the candy since there were enough sweet things on the dessert table. Add a bunch of other fish related things and we were good to go.

So it turned out pretty cute, right? I'm realizing that no matter how much you browse the internet and want to make magazine-worthy parties every time, you are basically working with what you've got...real life budgets, real life houses, real life opinions. And that, my friends, is the lesson of the day.

Friday, October 28, 2011

November Menu Plan...Not Just Leftovers


I swear, wasn't it just like yesterday that I posted October's menu? I'm pretty sure it was.  Anyway, I've got November's menu plan here for you. Hopefully it helps you not be a kitchen spaz. Can you guys give me some feedback too, like if you used the menu at all and if you liked anything in particular? Or if you plan to or whatev? Thanks buds.  Okay, I'm planning on cooking a lot more than I did in October so the menu is a bit fuller and the grocery list longer. Bt-dub, click on grocery list to download this month's grocery list. I also don't plan to have a fridge full of leftovers after Thanksgiving...mostly because I couldn't care less about Thanksgiving food. Turkey, meh. Stuffing, meh. Sweet potatoes, meh. It just ain't my bag. Ok, here's what *is* my bag:

1. French Dip Sandwiches
2. Open
5. Open
9. Open
11. Open
16. Open
22. Buffalo Chicken Potato Casserole...I know, say wha???
23. Open
24. Thanksgiving...wine and pie for me, thankyouverymuch
25. Autumn Chopped Salad & Grilled Cheese
26. Open
30. Open

Keep in mind I keep Wednesdays open because I'm on my own that night while my husband is busy being a nerd. And a random weekend night is usually kept open for when I am tired of slaving over a hot stove all week and I request a McDonald's 2 Cheeseburger meal. Plain. With a coke.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

BLT Pizza

Once a month, I like to have homemade pizza night, usually on a Friday. I know, we're living it up over here. Gettin craaaaazy. Anyway, homemade pizza night, hereafter referred to as HPN, is usually comprised of whatever we've got hanging out in the fridge (except for the cans of Miller Lite). It's an excellent way to use up leftovers and I'm of the school that thinks that if you've got enough cheese to smother it with, almost anything will taste good baked on a nice slab of pizza dough. Am i right or am I right? Or am I right?

So on this particular evening, we had some leftover um, bacon? I'm not sure how that happened. We are a bacon-loving household. But somehow I found some wrapped up, hidden beneath a bag of tortillas that *needed* to be cooked that night, ya know what I'm saying? Like, on it's last leg bacon. Is that gross? Not when you sizzle that shit up and make BLT pizza with it!


Do you guys have HPN at your place?


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Bottle Pop Parties: Mason Jars

So most companies, if they know what's good for them, take advantage of social media. There are people whose job it is to sit around and blog, tweet and update their status on Facebook. Can you believe that? Why isn't someone paying me? Geeeeez, I do this ish for free. Anyway, my point is that even though I make zero monies from this here blog, I've got a corresponding Facebook page and Twitter account for it. And I use them. So when I started Bottle Pop Party Co., I knew I had to set up accounts for both. But man, keeping up with all of them is a bit much. So there was no way I was starting a separate party blog, especially when the internet is already saturated with them. Plus, I figure you dudes would want to check out what I'm up to party-wise, right? So since I'm just going to post the stuff on my personal blog here, you can feel free to pin the crap out of any good pictures and get me famous on the Pinterest. I'd love that. Speaking of Pinterest, is it cool to pin your own things? Self-promote if you will? I've been wondering about that...

Anyway, this past weekend, I was handling a dinner party.  It was a religous group that has a catered dinner every year in the fall.  They gave me their specific menu and I called up my trusty caterer, Main Line Catering, who I've worked with a bunch of times. For a fantastic price, they provided all of the food, drinks, dishes, everything. Like Super Grover, I showed up. Well I showed up with table linens, centerpieces and menus to try to add a bit of cuteness for very little money. I also brought John, who served the food. Cheap labor, ha.


I just dropped some tealights into a few lace and jute twine wrapped mason jars and set them on burlap runners and called it a day (night).


I also designed these cute little mason jar menus and tied them off with a piece of twine as well.



And as much as I'd love to have picture perfect lighting everytime, I'd dare to say that most events happen indoors, at night. So here's the general look.


Of course, as soon as dinner was served, the overhead lighting went on and sorta ruined the ambiance. Such is life. Ya gotta see what your eating, ya know? But all of the guests were thrilled with the food and service. I even got a bunch of compliments on the menus and they all took them home so yay me!

I also had an Under the Sea 3rd birthday party this past weekend that I'll share soon!


Sunday, October 23, 2011

He's Ready for His Close-Up

Since I've stopped doing Gabe's monthly photoshoots, I've seriously been slacking in the photog department. In fact, a few weeks ago, my mom asked me to print up a recent picture of Gabe and I realized I hadn't taken any in the month after his first birthday. On one hand, that's sad. On the other hand, the hand that I'm choosing to wave around, I realize that I've taken more pictures of that little boy in his first year than any human ever needs and dammit, I need a break. But I won't lie. I miss our little photoshoots each month. So I'm definitely loving the holiday firsts that pretty much require moms to pick out a cutesy outfit and snap away. Things like jumping in piles of leaves, picking out his first pumpkin, pulling on his first turkey wishbone…that sort of thing. It all satiates my need for a little mama/little buddy photo time. And of course, once again this year, I’ll need another adorable shot to grace the Wellington Christmas card. Last year, we ordered our cards through Shutterfly.

Omg. I want to reach through the computer and pull back a tiny little 4 month old!

Anyway, Shutterfly rules. Plain and simple. The holiday photo cards are high quality and the colors come out so vibrant. I can't wait to get the photoshoot going for this year's card so I can pick out something cute. Oh and btw, they've got photo calendars too.  Because you know everyone who's anyone will be rocking a Gabe 2012 Calendar with all of his monthly photos from this past year.  Let me know if you're in for one. They'll be selling like hotcakes. Delicious, fluffy hotcakes.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Always Bloggy Finale: A Novella

Alrighty, I'm here to wrap up the rest of the Always Bloggy weekend. Check out our campfire s'mores bar and our Philadelphia sightseeing and even our welcome bags, if you missed it.  And this might get wordy so bear with me. 

Ok, so somehow the weekend just kept getting better and better, so that by the time the girls had to leave, I was legit sad. The whole weekend, I had girls in my house, watching my boy, cooking in my kitchen, kicking back on the couch...and it was awesome. In fact, as soon as Nellie arrived from Seattle on Friday afternoon, she volunteered to wrangle Gabe while Bethany and I did important things like arrange graham crackers *just so* and swipe on some eyeliner. She's got a son around Gabe's age so I thought nothing of it and headed inside to shower. However, as I was sitting there doing my makeup, a thought occured to me. I had just handed over my son to a complete stranger. (Did I mention Nellie had de-lurked to tell us she wanted to come meet us? So awesome. But yeah, a stranger). I should be a little more cautious, right? So just to assuage my guilt, I crept over and peeked out through the blinds. Yep, there he was, wandering around the lawn and there she was, following right behind, just like I assumed he would be. We joked about it later on, but the moral of the story is that I felt immediately comfortable with these girls and it was more like a girls weekend than a meetup...which really, how much better can you get?

So anyway, let's bring you up to date on the weekend happenings.  We had gone sightseeing on Saturday then stopped at Jim's Steaks on South St so that the girls could get a real cheesesteak. I gave them all lessons on how to order, and after a brief gluten allergy quandry, we took our steaks and inhaled them. Then it was back home/hotels for us. We had dinner reservations that night at Limoncello in downtown West Chester, a cute little college town. After waiting forEVER for a table that was supposedly reserved we were finally seating and the feasting could commence. Most of us picked a wine partner and split a bottle. Because really, how else do you become better friends with somebody other than eye up that last glass and wonder who's gonna get it?


So after lots of awesome food, hilarious conversations, labor stories, pan flute-playing and more drinks, the night came to an end. For some. See, we had a pretty diverse group of ladies, including one with child and one not quite the legal drinking age. So while some went home and got a good night's sleep, some of us um, didn't. Some of us found the bar playing old school Mace and DMX and shut.it.down. Some of us drank nine vodka and cranberries. Nine. Btw, that somebody was Bethany, who had alerted us to the fact that she had.never.been.hammered. Our mission that night was to change that. And we did. Proudly.

Some of us crawled up on dumpsters because it seemed like a good idea. Some of us shared secrets you share with your best girls. Some of us came home, found my emergency bottle of champagne and drank it out of tumblers while cuddled up in bed together.

Oh and all of us got a big old FAIL on picture taking this entire weekend. All we could come up with is like one normal pic and crappy cell phone pics. I guess that just means we were having too good a time to care, right? Right.


So Sunday morning rolled around. Ow. After heading to bed around 4am, this girl was not feeling so hot. You know what made me feel better? Nellie & KP arriving at my house with bags of groceries and Nellie proceeding to make us all breakfast. I know, right? Could she be any more awesome? Don't think so. I was complaining to whoever would listen that I'd like to be the sort of person Nellie is (besides tall, blonde and hot). The kind that just cooks, cleans and babysits at someone else's house because she can't sit still. Me? I'm just lazy. But I get points for wanting to be like that, right?

Ok, so next up on the agenda was doing some shopping. First stop...terrain. Of course. It's sparkly and magical and full of pretty pretty things. So off we went...


Ladies and the gourds who love them -- Bethany and KP

Normal picture alert -- Bethany and Lauren

I ordered everyone into the firepit section and made them drape themselves in wool blankets. No matter it was creeping past 80 degrees. No matter at all.


Since we had gotten a late start to the day *coughhangovercough*, most of the girls had to get on the road. Turn those smiles upside down. But John told me we couldn't build bunk beds and make everyone move into the guest house and call it Camp Shannanigans, so home they went. But you know who stuck around for another day? These girls...that's Bethany and Nellie if you weren't paying attention.

We decided to skip any more shopping and head back to my house to relax. And by relax, I mean, we all busted out our laptops and hung out on my couch. Because what's a blogger meetup without some blog talk? At some point, we decided more food was a good idea, so John and I took the girls down to our favorite authentic Mexican restaurant. A shit-ton of chips and tacos later, we were all ready to head to bed. Unfortch, we had to start the next day out by taking Nellie to the airport. Bethany and I held back our tears and embarrassing breakdowns while we said goodbye for now. Then we pulled our shit together. We had a baby to visit!

We drove up to visit Lizzie Beth so that the two of them could finally meet and we could all oooo and ahhh over little Hunter. Btw, Lizzie Beth has this mothering thing DOWN. She found time to look awesome AND make us lunch. Thanks LB! Plus, that little peanut of a baby is adorbs!


Totally not my pic. I stole it from LB's blog. Hope she doensn't mind.

After we were all exhausted from keeping Gabe from trying to climb LB's stairs, we took off. Bethany had a plane to catch and I had tears to let flow. So we dropped her off and she flew back to the land of cheese, leaving the Wellingtons to fend for themselves again. And that my friends, was Always Bloggy in Philadelphia.  For the most part, it went according to the loose plan that Bethany and I had crafted. But what surprised us is how close a group of us got over one little weekend. So yeah, just awesome. And yeah, we're totally gonna do another one. Bethany and I are already planning the opening ceremonies...

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

HeyHowAreYa

I've noticed (and by noticed, I mean I jumped for joy each time) that we've got a few new readers round these parts. And if there's something I love, it's new readers. So the first thing on my agenda today is to say hey. And welcome. And I love you. Wait, too soon? Ok, scratch that. I kinda like you. Consider this me rolling out my welcome mat and hanging my pineapple above my door, the international (or national, I dunno, I just made that up) sign for hospitality. Ok now we're acquainted.


That's Gabe. He's the star of this show. He's 14 months old. For the first year of his life, I dressed him up in costume every month. I told myself I would stop, even though it was hilarious and addicting, but it was also a pain in the keister. So I stopped. We're reduced to taking regular pictures.

I quit my 9 to 5 when he was born to stay home. I got bored so I recently launched an event planning business. It's pretty awesome.

I'm married to John, who wins best blog husband...voted by me. In fact, the moment you hit follow, he probably sent me a text to make sure I knew. Nerds.  Anyway, I am a big fan of running an awesome home. Cooking, cleaning, keeping shizz organized, all that. I keep my hot glue gun plugged in  and a supply of bakers twine on hand at all times. I love boozing it up with hilarious people and laughing until no sound comes out.

So now you know. And knowing is half the battle.

And there comes a time in every blogger's life where she opens it up to the crowd. Do you guys have any questions you're dying to ask? Like how well can I parallel park? Like what kind of flat iron I use? Like how bad do I have it for Mark Wahlberg? No? You don't care about any of those? Ask me something...anything, so I don't look like a moron here. Thanks dudes.

awesomely, Chi, real bad

Monday, October 17, 2011

Pickin a Punkin

Mornin friends. Man, I don't know what it is. I can't get it together lately. Well I do know what it is. I've got two parties booked for next weekend, so I'm up to my eyeballs in party crafting. Which, don't get me wrong, is awesome and kinda what I'd most always rather be doing. But two parties in one weekend? Talk about throwing myself into the fire, ya know?

Anyway, we went to pick out our pumpkin this weekend. And thankfully, the weather was just about near perfect, unlike last year with a two month old and gale force winds. And since there's really not much to say about a pumpkin patch, let's get on to the photo dump.







The Oooooo face...my fave






and this time last year. What?!?!?




Friday, October 14, 2011

In Hawaii You Get Leid, In Philly You Get Snacked

So last time we talked, I told you about the s'mores bar. Oh yes, it was sweet. Literally and figuratively. Luckily we bought enough s'mores supplies (including those delicious After 8 Mints that come in their own envelopes) to feed an army, so I don't have to tell you that come 9:30 pm, my choices in snacks this week have been plentiful. But moving on, I'm still not done talking about Always Bloggy. I've got a bunch more to say. Hopefully you don't mind. And um, if you do? Have a s'more and wait it out.

So when the girls arrived on Friday, we welcomed then with open arms. Those who arrived a bit late received drunken running hugs. Ask KP. She got one of those the moment she pulled into my driveway. But after getting accosted, they each recieved an Always Bloggy Welcome Bag! How exciting, eh? A bag of SWAG, aka Stuff We All Get.


If you read Bethany's blog, you'll recogize those gorgeous little nametags she's known for. Basically as soon as we decided we should have cute name tags, I told Bethany she had to make the little award ribbon accordians. I'm pretty sure they were the highlight of the weekend. Seriously, aren't they just darling? And I don't throw out the word darling too often.


Ok, so onto the SWAG. It was mostly just snacks. But who doesn't love snacks? No one! And Philly is known for our snack foods, so I don't have too much else to work with.




What's a Woozie you ask? Oh only the most stylish insulated wine glass sleeve around! They're designed to keep drink temps constant during summer or winter...and let me tell you, they work. Woozie was nice enough to provide fun little monogrammed Woozies for each girl attending Always Bloggy. So not only do they keep your drink the ideal temp, they keep everybody's booze straight! Win win! And the cute packaging is always a plus for this girl. I'm pretty sure that black and white polka dot ribbon came right off of my wedding invitation. Obviously, me and the Wooz were meant to be.


Ok, let me tell you about these pretzels. Yeah they're delicious, no surprise there. But what's awesome about them is the company that provided them.  Let's be honest, when we went looking for some SWAG, we hit up the Pennsylvania General Store. When they said they'd be happy to donate some chocolate covered pretzels to the welcome bags, we were stoked. When I picked them up and saw them, I was amazed. They totally hooked us up. Big bags full of pretzels for each girl. So seriously, if you need anything delicious, check em out, they totally ship all over. And if you've got a hankering for a chocolate soft pretzel, they've got you covered. Thanks PA General!

So once the fire was going and the wine was flowing, this girl pretty much forgot about her camera. For a blogger meetup, there sure was a lack of cameras around all week. So this about sums up our first night. It was a lot more fun than these pictures would lead you to believe.



Bethany noticed the heart shape in this log. Of course she would.


Woooooz!


Lauren & Bethany woozin it up...

Like I said, I've got lots more to yap about. But I've also got a baby getting his molars in. And I'm not sure if it's that or he's just coming into his Irish temper because this kid is throwing some fits! I'm talking shaking his clenched fists, crying red face. If it weren't so funny, I'd feel bad. Anyway, it's tiring. So meh about that.

ANd a quick update on my brother. He has been discharged and his home recovering. Things are looking good for him! I really do appreciate all your prayers and the emails and tweets. And to those of you who chatted me up for the first time because of him, thank you. Did I mention you guys rule? Cause you totes do.

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